During the oath-taking ceremony of border police officers on Monday 19 June, Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán made various remarks about the country’s position with regard to both immigration and the EU. According to Orbán, Hungary has been the first to prove that:

migration, so far believed to be uncontrollable, can be controlled, stopped, and reversed. (…) And has demonstrated that we will not be forced to accommodate people whose identities or intentions we do not know.

Orbán stressed that it is the peoples of Europe who should themselves make decisions regarding their countries and argued that this includes its migration policies. Orbán took full responsibility for his country’s policy, and also made clear he does not welcome Brussels’ interfering with this policy:

We believe that the future of Europe is not planned in the center of an empire but in the capitals of European nation-states; in Warsaw, Paris, Berlin, and in Budapest too.

Instead, Orbán argued, Hungary did what “common sense and history dictated: it blocked the influx.” Had it done otherwise, hundreds of thousands of migrants “would still be pouring through Hungary [and] anyone who declares themselves a refugee would still enter uncontrolled.

Six Eastern European countries agree to tackle migration

Controlling (illegal) migration also topped the agenda in Prague, where defence ministers of the Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC) met on 19 June as well. Czech, Austrian, Croatian, Slovak, Slovenian and Hungarian delegations discussed the Joint Action Plan prepared in accordance with a decision taken at the joint meeting of Forum Salzburg and CEDC interior and defence ministers in Vienna, February 2017.

The plan is aimed at establishing a crisis management coordination mechanism based on a joint situation analysis evaluating the migration pressure and the assessment of measures for preventing potential crisis situations. All within a framework of civil-military cooperation between the six countries.

Participants issued a short declaration, welcoming the Joint Action Plan and calling on the interior ministers of their respective countries to finalise it in the shortest time possible. Meant to facilitate the quick and joint mobilisation of civilian, police and military capabilities, it states that the most important task is the protection of the external borders of the EU.

Declaring that the CEDC member-countries are willing to further enhance their cooperation, it underlines willingness to provide mutual assistance in the interest of managing the migration crisis. It also emphasises the importance of preserving stability in the Western Balkans.

Particpants also talked about the wider context of Europe’s security situation and the next steps in strengthening the European common security and defence policy.