The Hungarian Minister of Interior Sandor Pinter has acknowledged the importance of external Schengen borders in dealing with immigration during a meeting with representatives of the other Visegrád Group member countries and his Austrian counterparts, in Prague last week.

During the meeting, Minister Pinter said that protecting the external Schengen borders of the European Union is crucial, when it comes to stopping migration to Europe.

When it comes to migration, the most important thing is clearly to protect the external Schengen borders… At the same time, help must be taken to where the problems arise,” he said to those present in the meeting.

Hungary has had a hard stance on migrants since 2015 when about 400,000 asylum seekers crossed the Serbian-Hungarian border and descended on the Keleti railway station in Budapest. The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party had at the time called it a “Muslim invasion” taking measures to stop another wave of migrants from reaching its borders, including the construction of barbed wire fenced.

It also permitted asylum seekers to file asylum requests only inside transit zones, where they were denied food to the point of starvation, the Hungarian Helsinki committee reported.

Pinter thanked the other members of the Visegrád Group, which is a cultural and political alliance of four Central European states – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, for the help they provided to protect Hungary’s borders from the inflow of migrants. He also pointed out that Hungary provides the same assistance to the Western Balkans countries.

Throughout the meeting, the ministers agreed that the drafting of the new pact on migration and asylum proposed by the new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen would be a good opportunity to reevaluate the issue of immigration.

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