Hungary, Austria and Serbia meet to combat illegal immigration as crisis deepens

Trilateral Hungarian-Serbian-Austrian meeting in Budapest on October 3, 2022. (MTI/Zoltán Fischer)
By Dénes Albert
5 Min Read

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán hosted on Monday a trilateral meeting in Budapest with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić designed to coordinate the three countries’ fight against a common problem: illegal immigration.

At the three leaders’ joint press conference after the meeting, Orbán stressed that this is the first, opening meeting of a longer series; he added that the leaders of the three countries most affected by the issue of migration met because “all three of us are suffering from illegal migration.”

Orbán noted that combating illegal immigration is consuming a lot of energy, manpower, and huge sums of money, “while we are not at all satisfied with the situation that we have.” He said that the world has other pressing problems, those being the war between Russia and Ukraine along with high energy prices and sanctions, and that these are the main focus of attention. This has led to a lack of attention on migration, which is just as important as the other two.

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As Remix News has previously reported, Europe is facing a massive increase in immigration comparable to 2016 crisis levels in some countries, with 12 out of 16 of Germany’s federal states indicating they will reject any new refugees due to overcrowding in schools and kindergartens along with a lack of accommodations. Hungary has reported over 160,000 illegal migrant crossings since the beginning of the year, and Austria and Czechia have also reported of a dire migrant crisis facing Europe.

He said that an attempt is being made to face up to the situation and develop measures to defend against illegal immigration. Hungary initiated this meeting “because we are in a most special situation,” as there is a two-way migration problem. The Russian-Ukrainian war has led to more than a million refugees arriving from Ukraine in the east, while the border is “under constant siege” from the south.

Orbán noted that “there are some developments ahead” that will further complicate the situation. There is no sign of a change in Brussels’ current policy, which actively encourages migration, with redistribution quotas coming back on the agenda again and again. He also said there is a global economic downturn and a difficult global food situation due to the war and sanctions, which will all increase the pressure of illegal migration.

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The Hungarian PM said the most affected migration routes to Europe are those in the Western Balkans. In addition, “illegal migration and the activity of people smugglers has reached a new level.” He then pointed to these groups increasingly using firearms against both one another and even against border guards. He stressed that these three countries are not only protecting their borders, but the whole of Europe.

“Hungary is fulfilling its obligations as a member of Schengen, but it would be in its interest and in the interest of Europe as a whole to move the line as far south as possible. The primary line of defense is now the Serbian-Hungarian border, and it is in everyone’s interest that it is moved further south,” Orbán said.

Orbán also said that assistance had already been provided to Serbia and North Macedonia, but now a new dimension of cooperation was needed. After Monday’s meeting, there will soon be another one in Belgrade, where the relevant ministers will hold talks and put concrete steps into legal form. He noted that if there is joint action, the financial and human resources required will also be clarified there. A third meeting is also planned, which could take place in Vienna, he added.

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