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Border Fence with Serbia and Croatia

Hungary began construction work on a second fence along its border with Serbia in a bid to make the processing of refugees more effective. The construction operation began on 27 February 2017, a government spokesman said, adding that it would be the second line of fence along the country's southern border.

Construction material had already been shipped to various areas along the border while poles for the fence were already standing near the border station Kelebia. Some USD 130 million has been earmarked by the government for the fence and camps to hold refugees. Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff, Janos Lazar, said earlier that Hungary would begin the construction as soon as the weather permitted and the project would finish by the end of spring. The fence would for now extend only to the border with Serbia, a key point of entry for many refugees planning to travel to Western Europe.

Hungary's citizens voted 02 October 2016 in a plebiscite to reject the EU's refugee quota plan. A total of 37.88 percent, or around 3.1 million voters, turned up to vote in the referendum, thus failing to reach the required minimum of 50 percent. Over 62 percent of those eligible did not take part in the referendum or cast invalid ballots. But the ruling party's deputy chief Gergely Gulyas said the vote was "a sweeping victory for all those who reject the relocation plan, for those who believe that only nations states should remain and for those who believe in democracy."

President Viktor Orban said there would be "legal consequences" regardless of the outcome of the polls. "A valid referendum is always better than an invalid one, but the legal consequences will be the same," he said. "There is only one condition for this: that there are more 'No' votes than 'Yes' votes," he added. With just 1.79 percent answering "yes" to the question on whether the European Union should be able to relocate migrants to Hungary without the Hungarian parliament's approval, 98.21 percent voted "no." Opposition parties and rights groups had called on Hungarians to boycott the referendum.

Hungary announced plans 17 June 2015 to build a fence 4 meters (13 feet) high on its border with Serbia to stem the flow of illegal migrants. Officials said that so far this year, some 54,000 migrants had entered Hungary, up from 43,000 in 2014 and 2,150 in 2012. The move triggered a swift rebuke from the UN refugee agency.

Foreign Minister Pter Szijjrt announced that Hungary will build a fence on the total 175-kilometer (109 miles) length of the Hungarian-Serbian border. A Hungarian-Serbian intergovernmental summit would be held on 1 July, at which the Serbian government would receive detailed information on the Hungarian measures, the Minister announced.

"We are not talking about a unique measure here. There is such a border closure on the Greek-Turkish and Bulgarian-Turkish borders and Spanish towns are also defending themselves this way. Hungary is infringing no EU law with this," Szijjrt stressed.

Szijjrt stressed that the government is not violating any international laws with the measure. He added that prior to the decision, the Ministry of Interior conducted a survey among local farmers, and he claimed that a majority of those queried answered that illegal immigrants coming over the border constitute a serious issue. Szijjrt said that the European Union is also trying to work out a solution regarding the issue of immigrants, but it seems to be a slow and lengthy process, and Hungary, as a country crucially affected by immigrants, cannot wait any longer.

A single week was given to make preparations for the new "Iron Curtain" the most infamous of which Hungary helped tear down in 1989. In Hungary, the Iron Curtain was installed along the Austrian border, in the form of a 356 km-long barbed wire fence, and along the 630 km Yugoslavian border on the south.

The death of Stalin in 1953, and the subsequent easing of political tension between the East and the West led to officials declaring the Iron Curtains construction complete. As a result, in October 1955, the Hungarian government ordered the removal of the barbed wire fences, which was completed by the autumn 1956, giving hundreds of thousands of people the opportunity to flee the country after the 1956 failed revolution and freedom fight.

In March of 1957 the government once again ordered the sealing off of the western border. The Iron Curtain became completed again on June 30, 1957. The new Iron Curtain consisted of 350 km of double barbed wire fences and a minefield of about 800,000 mines. With the fences deteriorating over time, the barriers were updated in 1963, and approximately one million new mines were installed.

The Hungarian Embassy in Serbia issued a release on 18 June that the Hungarian measures for reduction of illegal migrations do not affect the functioning of border crossings between the two countries and added that the plans for opening of new crossings are being made.

This meant that a well-meaning citizen of Serbia or any other country who holds valid travel documents and wants to enter the territory of Hungary in keeping with relevant laws will not face any obstacles in the time to come just as was the case until now, stated the release.

The Hungarian Embassy noted that the planned measures aimed at curbing illegal migrations had no influence on the country's full support to Serbia's European integration, and stated that it would inform the Serbian government in detail thereon during a joint session in Budapest on July 1. Both Serbia and Hungary are victims of a geopolitical situation with regard to the issue of illegal migrations, which is why the solution has to be found through joint efforts, stated the release.

Serbias Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic reacted with anger to Hungarys announcement. We will not build walls, he said, I can guarantee that. Serbia will not close itself. We don't want to live in an Auschwitz. Vucic said he was "surprised and shocked" by the Hungarian government's plan to erect a fence along the shared border to keep out illegal migrants.

Hungary's prime minister said his government's plan to build a 4-meter-high fence on the border with Serbia to stop the flow of migrants will also protect Europe "from every illegal entry." Viktor Orban said on June 19 that "if a question is complicated, choose the easiest solution," so in the case of the migrants, "the state will defend its external borders."

By August 2015 Hungary was nearly finished building a fence that stretches 110 miles, stands 12 feet high and is topped with barbed wire. The fence had one, very specific purpose: to keep out migrants. The sprawling fence lined Hungary's border with Serbia, from where tens of thousands of people have crossed in to the country in 2015 alone. Many of these migrants were Syrian refugees who had walked hundreds of miles along the Balkan land route through Europe, searching for safety.

Hungary closed its border with Croatia at midnight (2200 GMT) October 16, 2015 to contain the flow of thousands of migrants arriving daily in the country, before traveling to northern Europe. A final group of several hundred migrants was permitted to cross the border shortly before it was sealed off at midnight local time.

A fence along the frontier had already been built to prevent unauthorized crossings. Hungary has installed spools of razor wire near a border crossing with Slovenia, which like Hungary is part of the EU's Schengen zone of passport-free travel. More than 380,000 migrants had entered Hungary in 2015 and Hungarian authorities anticipate the number to exceed 700,000 by the end of the year.

On 24 September 2015 Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec was informed that the barbed wire being erected by Hungary on the border with Slovenia was a "temporary and makeshift" solution by his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto.

Today, we agreed to strengthen cooperation and decided that there will be no more unilateral measures, said the Slovenian Minister of the Interior Vesna Gyrks Žnidar, after meeting her Hungarian counterpart Sndor Pintr 28 September 2015. According to the Slovenian interior minister, there has been a positive development since when Slovenia was not informed of Hungary erecting a wire fence on the former border crossings of Pince and Dolga vas, as Hungary has removed the fence.

Slovenian and Hungarian interior minister agreed to improve cooperation, particularly at operational level, as both sides will daily share information, strengthen mutual border patrols and include Slovenian police officers in joint investigative teams fighting organisers of illegal border crossings. The Slovenian minister said that she did not discuss closing the green border and the border between Slovenia and Hungary with her counterpart. They have agreed that any additional measure will be subject to prior agreement between the countries.

The minister also said that existing cooperation between the police forces of both countries is already excellent and that the incident with the fence was an extraordinary event that does not hinder future cooperation.

The four border protection bases which will serve to accommodate the members of the defence forces taking part in the protection of the southern border have been completed. The last facility was inaugurated in Hercegsznt on 20 March 2017. Defence Minister Istvn Simicsk told journalists on site that the bases, each of which accommodates 150 soldiers, will render the protection of Hungarys southern border more effective. Soldiers were earlier put up in barracks in Kaposvr and Hdmezovsrhely as well as in rented accommodation. With the completion of the bases, they can now be accommodated at locations closer to their duties, the politician said. He added: as a result, the units concerned can be deployed much more swiftly, should any change occur.

Austrian technical units took part in the construction of the Kelebia, Bcsalms, Madaras and Hercegsznt bases as well as in the construction of roads, for which the Minister said thanks, and expressed hope that this good cooperation will continue. He reiterated that Hungary received assistance with the protection of the border also from the Visegrd Four earlier. The Minister said: the Central-European cooperation may also render the recognition and solution of problems more effective.

Simicsk pointed out: the defence forces help the police with the protection of the border as necessary. At present, some three thousand soldiers are serving at the border, but the defence forces are able to flexibly respond to changes. The Minister said: pay rises will continue, and the Government set out to raise the pay of soldiers to one and a half times by 2019. In addition to pay rises, they also seek to express their appreciation to members of the defence forces through the modernisation of their individual equipment and clothing and the replacement of their fleet of vehicles. He added: it is also thanks to this that the retaining capacity of the defence forces has improved in the past six months.

The construction of the four border protection bases of the Hungarian Defence Forces began last autumn. In the camps, soldiers are put up in shipping container homes for four, equipped with electric heating and air-conditioning. At the base consisting of some 90 shipping container homes, in addition to the residential units, there are toilet, bathroom, kitchen and laundry facilities, communal rooms and a fitness facility, and should the need arise, an additional floor may be added to the shipping container homes, in consequence of which their accommodation capacity can be doubled at any time.

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Page last modified: 18-12-2018 18:41:00 ZULU