Central European defence ministers aim to strengthen joint border protection to combat illegal migration
On 19th June, members of the Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC) arrived at Prague Castle, the seat of the Czech President, to discuss European border protection strategies. Minister of Defence Martin Stropnicky welcomed the Austrian Minister of Defence and Sports, Hans Peter Doskozil, as well as the representatives of the defence ministries of Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The group discussed the security situation in Europe, particularly that of the Western Balkans which is one of the main migratory routes to Europe. They examined the various ways of enhancing joint defence procedures in dealing with illegal migration, improving management processes, and strengthening the European Union’s border protection. They confirmed their commitment to continuing their joint cooperation in the ‘Joint Declaration of the Ministers of Defence of the Central European Defence Cooperation’ document.
“In the past, when the migration crisis was at its peak, we demonstrated our ability to help and support one another. This Declaration sums up our view of the security situation in Europe, especially with respect to the Western Balkans,” said Minister Stropnicky at the close of the meeting.
Declaration and Action Plan
Minister Stropnicky also mentioned the fact that Austria had come up with an action plan which defines the tasks of the armed forces of the individual member states in the event that direct action is called for in order to protect their external borders. It would include the involvement of the police, the military and/or civilian organisations.
“We will also present this approach to Brussels. We will insist that this plan be implemented as a task of the European Union, but, we will not wait until then to take action. We have already reached an agreement on how we should proceed. We want to be able to declare that we are already operational and, perhaps in two months or so, we will organize a joint exercise to demonstrate how we imagine border protection should be in the future,” said Austrian Defence and Sport Minister Hans Peter Doskozil.
The representatives of the defence ministries of Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia welcomed the possibility of a joint exercise and agreed to the proposed Declaration.
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By Nuala Casey and Oldrich Holecek
June 23, 2017