Balkan route: new checks at Slovak border

The number of migrants heading towards Central Europe via Serbia and Hungary has spiked again now that the Covid pandemic has ebbed. Austria and the Czech Republic have introduced controls at their borders with Slovakia because smugglers are increasingly using the country as a transit route. Commentaries reflect disagreement over the measures.

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Pravda (SK) /

Hungary the main culprit

Pravda sees the real creator of the problem in Budapest:

“Although we held negotiations with Hungary on taking back the refugees, the measures taken remained half-hearted. We preferred to put up fences against our former brother state, the Czech Republic. But the responsibility clearly lies with Hungary. It is not adequately protecting the Schengen border. In 2015, Viktor Orbán made headlines by erecting a fence on the border with Serbia. Where is it now? Or is Orbán doing this on purpose? He knows very well that migrants are drawn to the countries in the west of the EU. In other words, to exactly those places where they want to turn off the European funding tap for Budapest.”

Sme (SK) /

Migrants all head for Germany anyway

The Czech Republic is being unfair towards Slovakia, Sme complains:

“Controls at the Slovak borders are unnecessary and a move by the Czech government to destroy Schengen. This policy will do nothing to counter illegal immigration. The Syrians who are entitled to protection will reach Germany anyway on their third or fourth attempt. ... The absolute majority of the 11,000 'illegals' Prague has recorded since the beginning of 2022 only use the Czech Republic for transit. In a situation where more than a million Ukrainians passed through the Czech Republic and around 300,000 of them stayed (!) it is completely unwarranted to introduce controls for 11,000 quasi-Syrians. And this vis-à-vis Slovakia, a state with which the Czech Republic supposedly maintains the very best relations.”

Salzburger Nachrichten (AT) /

Just copying the Czechs

Salzburger Nachrichten says Austria's plans to introduce controls on its border with Slovakia leave the country looking weak:

“The Ministry of the Interior in Vienna argues that Austria and Hungary's crackdown on trafficking gangs has led them to move their operations northwards. ... If that's the case, then it's surprising that Austria is only introducing controls at the Slovak border now that the Czech Republic has announced the same measure. Unfortunately, this doesn't look like a strategy but more like a rather helpless reaction.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Exploiting asylum figures to advance party interests

Der Standard accuses Austria's parties of either downplaying the issue or using it to foment fear:

“The number of asylum applications is rising - that's a fact. ... The migration movements should be discussed with an eye to taking action and without ideological blinkers. The Greens will also have to overcome their qualms. The SPÖ must take a clear stance. The [conservative] ÖVP must set aside its manipulative and populist tactics. There is a problem. Let's talk about it.”