Remarks by Hans Leijtens, the new head of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency Frontex, about the tasks of the agency “are dangerous” because they suggest that instead of protecting Europe’s borders, he wants to focus on providing legal services to illegal migrants, an interior ministry official said.
Bence Rétvári said after a meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers in Stockholm that illegal migration was among the topics discussed, and Hungary maintained the view that instead of opening up Europe, its borders must be protected. Rétvári said Leijtens’ remarks were “very dangerous” because he “expressly attacked the notion of turning back illegal migrants at the borders”. Speaking as if Frontex were an immigration agency, the new leader considers it most important to work together with NGOs, and help illegal migrants, informing them about their rights, he added. “It is totally absurd that those originally placed at the border to protect it are not actually protecting the border, turning back people who want to cross it illegally over the green border, but providing legal assistance with entering the country,” he said.
Hungary is protecting its southern borders, and together with Austria and Serbia, it also maintains a presence at the southern border of Serbia, he said.
Rétvári also said it was “perverse” that Frontex had a Dutch leader, because the Netherlands had no land border affected by migration. The new leader of the border protection agency should come from a country that is closer to a migration route, he added. He said another topic discussed at the meeting was deportation. When people staying illegally in the European Union are deported to the Western Balkans, the success of deportation is usually below 50%; if they are deported to Asia, then the success rate is only 5-8%. “This also shows that deportation is not an effective method for stopping illegal migration”, he added.