Slovakia’s new government announced a major deployment of police and armed forces on Monday along the border with Hungary to prevent a growing number of migrants from entering the country.
Prime Minister Robert Fico did not immediately elaborate on the development, but said illegal immigration must be controlled or people linked to “terrorist” groups could enter the country.
Fico, who spoke after meeting with Interior Minister Matus Sutai Esto, said the deployment would begin later on Monday and that he would personally inspect the situation at the border.
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His new government was sworn in last Wednesday after his leftist Smer, or Direction, party won parliamentary elections on September 30, paving the way for the populist leader to become prime minister for a fourth time.
The new government has yet to publish its policy programme, but Fico suggested it would include a tough stance on immigration.
Esto said the world situation was serious recently because of the war between Israel and the militant group Hamas, which attacked the country on October 7, and that he expected a new wave of immigration.
The minister said the government hoped to control the entire 407-mile border with Hungary.
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Slovakia’s previous government resumed random checks on its border with Hungary on October 5, a day after the country’s neighbors including Austria, the Czech Republic and Poland reintroduced checks on their borders with Slovakia to curb immigration. Slovakia’s then-prime minister Ludovit Odor criticized the neighbors’ border controls at the time, saying a pan-European solution to the migrant problem would be preferable.
All four countries belong to the Schengen zone of the European Union with visa fees.
Migrants mostly use Slovakia as a transit country on their way to Western Europe.
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According to the Interior Ministry, Slovakia registered almost 40,000 migrants from the beginning of the year to October 1 — 11 times more than a year ago.