Slovak government announces mass deployment of armed forces to man border with Hungary

By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

New Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico honored his electoral pledge to crack down on illegal immigration by announcing on Monday a mass deployment of police units and armed forces along the Slovak-Hungarian border.

Less than a week after being sworn in, the country’s new government, led by Fico’s left-wing populist Smer party, approved tougher measures at the border, which has frequently been used as a transit route for illegal newcomers into the European Union migrating to more prosperous Western member states.

“We very much fear a significant worsening of the migration situation. We have promised the public to protect Slovakia from illegal migration,” Fico said, adding that the decision to reinforce the border comes after Slovakia recorded more than 46,000 illegal migrants entering its territory since the start of the year — an increase of over 700 percent over the same period last year.

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“We will deploy massive forces to defend our green border with Hungary,” added Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok. “We want to send a clear signal that with the new government, a new approach to illegal migration has come.”

The previous administration reinstated temporary checks at the same border earlier this month as a response to neighbors Poland, Austria and Czechia’s decision to impose similar measures on their borders with Slovakia.

The temporary checks, initially installed for a 10-day period have since been extended until Nov. 2.

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Fico campaigned on a promise to adopt a hardline approach to illegal immigration, and it is understood that the recent destabilization in the Middle East has expedited measures to curb an anticipated increase in the migratory flow.

“It will not be a pretty picture,” he told journalists following his electoral victory on Sept. 30.

The Slovak prime minister, who is holding the office for the fourth time, confirmed that the deployment of the armed forces would commence on Monday and revealed he would personally visit the border to assess the situation in due course.

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