“Migration pressure on the southern border is increasing, and accordingly border protection has also been reinforced with the patrol boat of the Hungarian Defence Force”, Deputy Defence Minister and the Ministry of Defence’s Parliamentary State Secretary Szilárd Németh said at a press conference in Szeged on 20 January.

“There are some 100,000 illegal migrants present in the Western Balkans, a figure that has also been corroborated in reports issued by the United Nations, FRONTEX and various secret services”, Mr. Németh said on Monday at a press conference at the river border crossing point in Szeged. The Deputy Minister emphasised that more and more people would like to get into Europe by tackling the Hungarian border barrier.

“699 people were apprehended last week, and 636 the week before. The number is continuously increasing, and the police and military personnel on duty are intercepting more and more illegal border crossers”, he informed the press. According to the Ministry’s Parliamentary State Secretary, it is nothing new that many are attempting to get into Hungary by crossing border rivers, but the fact that more and more people are doing so during the winter period is a novelty, and as a result river patrols have also had to be reinforced. Accordingly, the Commander of the Hungarian Defence Force has deployed the Baja patrol boat to the Csongrád County border section of the Tisza River, on which soldiers from the HDF’s 1st EOD and Warship Regiment will be performing reconnaissance duties in cooperation with police.

The patrol boat was fully refurbished in 2007, leading primarily to an improvement in manoeuvring and reconnaissance capability, it was stated at the press conference. The Baja is fitted with floodlights and night vision equipment, which make night-time reconnaissance easier, but its true military capability lies in its radar system, which can precisely pinpoint locations where someone is attempting to cross the aquatic stretch of the border in a boat or using other methods.

Mr. Németh said the Baja has already proven its capabilities. “A group of five Syrians were apprehended while attempting to cross the river in a rubber dinghy, and they were intercepted by precisely this patrol boat”, the Deputy Minister said, adding: “The goal of the patrols is not just to apprehend illegal border crossers, but also to act as a deterrent and a demonstration of force, because if illegal migrants see the continuous presence they will think twice about trying to use this stretch of the border to enter the territory of the European Union”. In reply to a question from the press, the State Secretary told reporters that if necessary, the Ministry and the Hungarian Defence Force are capable of further increasing the number of military personnel stationed at the border.

At the press conference, the region’s Member of Parliament László B. Nagy told reporters that the sense of security of the local population is being greatly increase by the military presence along the border.