Less than 24 hours after announcing a "massive" deployment of police and armed forces at the border with Hungary to curb illegal migration, the new Slovak government called it off, saying it was a "one-off measure."
The newly elected Slovak government says it will recall hundreds of police officers and soldiers who were sent to reinforce the border with Hungary - just a day after their deployment was initially announced.
The coalition government, which was established only last week, announced on Monday a “massive” deployment of police and armed forces at the border to prevent the growing number of migrants from entering its territory from the neighbouring country.
Prime Minister Robert Fico said the measure was justified to stop people potentially linked to “terrorist” groups from coming into Slovakia through the 655-kilometre frontier with Hungary and that the deployment would have started later on that same day.
Fico added that 46,000 undocumented migrants entered Slovakia since the beginning of the year.
But only one day later the government backtracked on the measure, saying it was a “one-off action aimed to clearly show that Slovakia is not a safe haven for migrants, especially for smugglers,” as Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok told reporters.
Former Foreign Minister Miroslav Wlachovsky criticised the “grandiose spectacle... of public relations policy” on social media, while opposition leader Michal Simecka said: “the current theatre at the border only results in wasting our country’s finances and human capacity.”
Slovakia’s current coalition government is formed by Fico’s left-wing, populist leaning and anti-refugees group Smer-SD, who joined forces with the far-right, pro-Russian SNS and Hlas-SD, a breakaway party from Smer.
On 5 October, the previous Slovak government resumed random checks at the border with Hungary, a day after neighbouring countries like Austria, Czechia and Poland reintroduced controls at their borders with Slovakia to curb migration.
Then-Slovak Prime Minister Ludovit Odor criticised the neighbours’ border controls at the time, saying it would be preferable to find a Europe-wide solution to the problem of migrants.