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Hungary and Serbia have expanded their cooperation against illegal migration by setting up joint patrols on the Serbia-North Macedonia and the Hungary-Serbia borders, Interior Minister Sándor Pintér said.

Speaking at a press conference he held jointly with his Serbian counterpart Aleksandar Vulin at Röszke at the border, Pintér said Hungary and Serbia shared the same views on the need to stem illegal migration.

Hungary and Serbia aim to persuade other European Union members to take part in these joint operations the way the Czech Republic and Austria have, Pintér said.

The EU’s landlocked countries have recognized that Hungary “is on the right track by protecting its borders with fences”, Pintér said. Today Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, and other countries with land borders are also building similar fences, he added.

House Speaker Kövér Discusses Security Policy, Migration in Vilnius
House Speaker Kövér Discusses Security Policy, Migration in Vilnius

Kövér thanked his negotiating partners for Lithuania's support for Hungary "against groundless attacks at international forums," according to information from the Hungarian parliament's press office.Continue reading

Meanwhile, Pintér said that in preparation for further waves of the coronavirus pandemic, he and Vulin had reviewed and expanded the rules on entry into each other’s country that had been in effect during the previous waves.

Vulin said the launch of the joint patrols showed that relations between Serbia and Hungary were “at their highest ever level”. The effects of illegal migration must be managed, as it presents social, health, and security risks, he said.

Strengthening the Hungarian border section is important for Serbia as well, Vulin said, arguing that if migrants know that a section of the border is well protected, they will not try to cross it.

Featured image: Sándor Pintér via Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI