Europe

Hungary, Austria and Serbia leaders outline plan to curb migration

The leaders of Hungary, Austria and Serbia met Monday in Budapest to find solutions on how to stem what they claim is the increasing number of migrants arriving in Europe.

The three leaders agreed to take joint action to control the new arrivals along the migration route that leads through Serbia.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer told reporters after the meeting that the joint action plan would include increased police cooperation along the borders as well as supporting Serbia when it comes to deporting migrants back to their home countries.

“We will directly support Serbia to carry out repatriations and not only support technical know-how, but also do everything possible that is necessary, and financially support them,” Nehammer said.

The Austrian chancellor lauded Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić’s announcement that by the end of the year, Serbia would align its visa policies with the European Union so that the visa-free regime with some non-EU countries is no longer used for migration purposes.

Serbia is a candidate country for full-fledged membership in the bloc.

“We will thus prevent the situation when someone uses Serbia as a country of arrival but not because of their real needs but for illegal migration toward the west,” Vučić said.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called for an overall political change in how to approach migration and suggested so-called hot spot centres outside the European Union where asylum-seeker requests should be processed. He added that “we are not satisfied at all with the situation that has developed.”

That procedure would, however, undermine the national laws of some European countries. Among them is Germany, which has enshrined in its constitution every foreigner’s right to apply for political asylum and have his or her request individually checked while staying in the country.

Among the migrants recently detained in Austria who have applied for asylum to avoid immediate deportation, Indian nationals accounted for the biggest group in September, according to government data.

Indian nationals need a visa to enter the EU but can enter Serbia without one. From there, many are trying to reach Western European countries with the help of traffickers, according to government claims.

Monday’s meeting in the Hungarian capital came after announcements by the Czech Republic and Austria last week that they would launch temporary border controls at their crossings with Slovakia to stop migrants from entering.

In addition to the meeting in Budapest, the interior ministers of Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia called on the EU on Monday to better protect the outer borders to curb the latest increase in migration.

“We’re facing problems that affect all of Europe,” said Czech Interior Minister Vit Rakušan.

While Serbia has not had any major incidents in handling prior waves of migration, Hungary has been accused of serious human rights violations in the past, including becoming the only EU country that has legalised pushbacks, some of which were said to have been violent.

Orban is one of the most vocal anti-migration politicians in Europe, known for publically labelling non-European immigrants “Muslim invaders” in an interview with the German newspaper Bild in 2018 and stating migration was “poison” in 2016.

Watch our video report in the player above.

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