Nat Sec CTTEE: Turkey Situation Could Worsen Migrant Crisis

  • 31 Aug 2016 9:00 AM
Nat Sec CTTEE: Turkey Situation Could Worsen Migrant Crisis
The current situation in Turkey could worsen Europe’s migration crisis, the head and deputy head of parliament’s national security committee said after a committee session. The state of domestic politics in Turkey has changed, and there is a serious threat that it could ignite a migration wave through the Balkan route similar to the wave seen last year, Zsolt Molnár, the committee’s head, said.

This migration wave could also affect Hungary, he said, adding that refugee procedures should be effective and humane rather than fast-tracked. Molnár welcomed the government’s decision to establish a special border patrol unit within the police force.

He said it had become clear that the external border of the Schengen Area can only be protected through joint European efforts, adding, at the same time, that the EU is in need of reform. A strong, reformed EU could secure the Schengen borders, he insisted. On the topic of residency bonds, the opposition Socialist head of the committee said security checks relating to their issuance were not thorough enough.

Molnár suggested that the rules relating to the issuance of residency bonds should be changed, as it is possible that they can be issued based on documents whose validity can be questionable. Szilárd Németh, the Fidesz deputy head of the committee, said Turkey’s situation could have a negative effect on the future of the European Union.

He noted Ankara’s desire for visa-free status with the EU and said Turkey could potentially send thousands of migrants to Europe.

The country’s uncertain situation could also lead Turks to set off for Europe, he said. He said the V4 grouping of Hungary, Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic and most other European countries are of the opinion that Europe should not grant visa-free status to Turkey for the time being because doing so would present serious risks.

Németh said the focus now should be on observing the EU-Turkey migration deal. One of the risks of granting the country a visa waiver could be an increase in the migrant inflow, he said. He also noted that there are 120,000-130,000, mainly unregistered migrants in Turkey.

He said Italian coast guards rescue “1,000-2,000 migrants from the sea each day” and noted that there are some 4,000 migrants stranded in Serbia as well. Another risk factor, he said, was that Islamic State militants could sneak into Europe by hiding among migrant groups and could later carry out terrorist attacks on the continent.

Citing the latest intelligence reports from counter-terrorism centre TEK, Németh said Hungary does not face any direct terrorist threat, but TEK is constantly gathering and analysing data. Regarding the topic of residency bonds, Németh said their issuance is in compliance with international standards, adding that the 6,000 residency bonds sold so far have amassed around 290 billion forints (EUR 935.6m) in revenue. Security checks into bond applicants are as thorough as they can be, he insisted.

Ádám Mirkóczki of the radical nationalist Jobbik party said secret service reports indicate that the migrant crisis could still turn “critical”, making it necessary to strengthen Hungary’s border fence. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced on Friday that the fence on Hungary’s southern border would be strengthened with the instalment of a second barrier.

LMP’s Bernadett Szél said a special border patrol unit should have been set up long ago. She said the need to strengthen the border fence indicated that “the fence alone is insufficient” in protecting the border.

Szél called for border protection measures capable of guaranteeing the entire continent’s security, adding that the migrant crisis should be addressed in the migrants’ countries of origin.

Republished with permission of Hungary Matters, MTI’s daily newsletter.

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