“The border protection system functioned well in the small hours of Tuesday morning, when illegal immigrants attempted to break through the Hungarian border at Röszke”, Minister of Interior Sándor Pintér said in assessment at a press conference in Budapest following a session of the Migration Working Group with the participation of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Mr. Pintér said that at last week’s inspection of the border there were already pieces of information, which are still current today, with relation to the fact that illegal immigrants will be attempting to illegally enter Hungary in several places. “The dawn breakthrough attempt corroborated this, but the police were prepared, and it was proven that nobody can cross over into Hungarian territory unnoticed”, the Interior Minister stated.

He said he has confidence in the police, who have proven their preparedness. “This is something on which we can base Hungary’s security”, he said.

Police Lt. General Károly Papp, the Ministry of Interior’s Director General for Public Safety said groups of illegal migrants attempted to get into Hungary by force in two waves at 05:20 a.m. and 05:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning at the Röszke 2 road border crossing point. The events were also captured on video, he noted.

The police officers on duty at the site successfully prevented the first breakthrough attempt, and apprehended one person. A group of some sixty to seventy people attempted to break through the border during the second wave, and after shouting a warning one of the three security guards on duty at the border crossing station fired three warning shots into the air, after which the group halted, and the majority of them ran back into Serbia, and in the meantime the police arrived at the scene, he told reporters.

Lt. Gen. Papp said a few migrants remained on Hungarian territory, as a result of which the area was closed off by the Csongrád Country Police Headquarters, and the area remains closed.

“The police apprehended four people, all of who were arrested, and criminal investigations have been launched against them”, he added.

He also mentioned that the border crossing point is open from 7 am until 7 pm.

The Director General for Public Safety also reported on the fact that 71 people attempted to enter Hungary illegally at six locations in Csongrád and Bács-Kiskun counties overnight.

Mr. Papp said he had ordered the national commander of the penal system to begin the examination of the border barrier along the full stretch of the Hungarian-Serbian border in cooperation with police, and to reinforce the barrier where necessary. “Repairs will begin at the Röszke border crossing station”, he added.

Lt. Gen. Papp said he had also asked the National Chief of Police to investigate whether people smugglers were awaiting the migrants who attempted to break through on the Hungarian side of the border.

He declared that from a professional perspective it is his opinion that the border security system had functioned properly.

Chief Security Advisor to the Prime Minister György Bakondi emphasised that the Hungarian-Serbian border is under major pressure, with 3400 people having attempted to enter Hungary illegally already so far in January.

He called events overnight a “blatant, violent and group breakthrough attempt”, which according to the Chief Advisor was perpetrated by young men, with an evident degree of organisation, in a violent manner, and at an emblematic location. He pointed out that a similar violent breakthrough attempt occurred at the exact same location in 2015.

He said that in his opinion the police were directed well, they reacted rapidly, and the three security guards performed their duties with personal distinction.

The Chief Security Advisor also said the border security system had worked effectively.

In reply to questions, Mr. Pintér said fence of the border security system is not present at Röszke, in view of the fact that the crossing of the border needs to be assured during the daytime. “This fence works using a totally different system, and was closed”, he explained. “If danger arises and this is known in advance, the strong iron gates that can now be seen at the side are used”, he added.

He also spoke about the fact that the questioning of those arrested is currently underway; those who wanted to enter Hungary were not EU citizens and were not Serbian, and they violated the regulations relating to the crossing of the border.

In reply to a question on whether information on the group had been provided by the Serbians, the Interior Minister said the Ministry will be able to respond following evaluation and analysis, and if the Serbs provide their authorisation.

In reply to another question, he spoke about the fact that security guards provide building security at the border, with border security immediately behind them, which reacted appropriately after being alerted. He said everyone was turned back within two minutes, and those who could not be turned back were apprehended. “People managed to infiltrate to a distance of 60-80 metres of the border; it is difficult to get further at a 400-kilometre external Schengen border”, the Interior Minister stressed.

According to Mr. Pintér, the border security system is sufficient to guard against groups of this size. “If we know in advance that large numbers of people are arriving, then we will also be there in large numbers”, the Minister declared.

In reply to a question concerning the coronavirus, the Interior Minister confirmed that no cases of the disease have occurred in Hungary. “The country has plans with relation to how to handle a healthcare emergency of this nature”, he added. He told reporters that the implementation of the plan is the responsibility of Disaster Management and the Chief Medical Officer.