BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) — Austria and Hungary will help Serbia curb migrant crossings on its southern border, Hungary’s foreign minister said on Thursday, citing an “explosion” in the number of people who left European countries without permission in recent months. came in.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said Hungary and Austria would provide Serbia with both equipment and personnel to better secure the border with North Macedonia. He spoke after delegations from the three countries met in Belgrade.
“It is our common interest to move the defense line to the south and that is why we agreed to join forces,” Serbian media quoted Szijjarto as saying.
“There has been an explosion in the number of migrants, and it really compares to 2015,” he said, as more than 1 million people entered Europe.
Thursday’s meeting followed a meeting held earlier this week by leaders of Austria, Hungary and Serbia to develop a joint strategy to curb migration.
Migrants from Asia, Africa and the Middle East who manage to reach Greece from Turkey then move north along the so-called Balkan route to North Macedonia and further into Serbia before reaching the borders of EU member states Hungary or Croatia.
The journeys are long and often dangerous. Bodies floated amid shattered wreckage in the waters off a Greek island Thursday as the death toll from the sinking of two migrant boats hundreds of miles apart to at least 21, and many are still missing.
Hungary installed barbed wire at the border with Serbia in 2016 to stop permitted border crossings and has been criticized for its anti-immigration policies. Migrants looking to enter Hungary are now seeking help from people smugglers to cross the road. Serbian police said on Wednesday that they had arrested a number of suspected smugglers after raiding the border.
“Serbia, Hungary and Austria share a common problem because of the migration crisis and the enormous pressure at the borders,” said Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic this week promised that Belgrade would align its visa policy with that of the EU to prevent Serbia’s visa-free arrangements with some countries from being used for unauthorized migration.
Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner said his country has received 58,000 asylum applications so far this year from people from Tunisia, Morocco, India and other countries whose citizens are not eligible for protection.
Follow AP’s coverage of global migration: https://apnews.com/hub/migration
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