Hungary and Serbia will join forces to stop potential migration waves and so protect Europe, including Germany, where many of the migrants are headed, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Wednesday, after talks with his Serbian counterpart, Ana Brnabic.
Orbán told the joint press conference after the meeting that Europe had to be protected from a new wave of possibly millions of people heading towards Europe in the wake of “the US failure in Afghanistan”. Should the migrants choose to travel by land, Serbia and Hungary will find themselves in a very difficult situation, he said.
“Governments, NGOs and Soros organizations previously in favor of migration” are now clearly just as ready to support migration from Afghanistan, Orbán said. This, however, is diametrically opposed to Hungary and Serbia’s interests, he said.
Serbia’s European Union membership is key to the bloc’s safety, he said. “We are protecting Hungary and Serbia, we are protecting ourselves but we all know these migrants do not want to live here, they are on their way to Germany. So when we protect ourselves, we are also protecting Europe, including Germany, as we did so many times over the centuries. This is true even if we get no appreciation, let alone gratitude,” he said.
Answering a question, Orbán said migration pressure is expected to grow, since “there are already around 4 million internally displaced people in Afghanistan”. “If this crowd finds a way out and leaves, they will make their way through Turkey to the region of Hungary and Serbia,” he said.
The two countries will have to strengthen their southernmost defence lines to stop migration, Orbán said. At the same time, “Germany’s stance, whether they want migration to be stopped or want to open a humanitarian corridor, remains to be seen.”
History has shown that we were never given help but rather designated as a bumper zone when internal regions of Europe were threatened and we had to protect Europe. They continued that practice for centuries. I can’t see any sign of that approach changing.”
Orbán insisted that Hungary had protected Germany in the 2015 migration crisis “while the Germans continued to stab us in the back, in the rule of law procedure as well as on the issue of erecting a border fence”. “We can only count on ourselves but we are strong enough to face that challenge,” he said.
In no way will they make a refugee camp out of Hungary or Serbia. In no way will they set up hotspots here. In no way will security issues sideline economic development, we simply can’t afford that”
The strategic partnership agreement the two prime ministers signed ahead of the press conference are seen as long-term commitment in Hungary, Orbán said, “a strategic agreement of friendship and partnership that will be a secure point in the ever-changing waters of foreign policy in the coming decades.”
The agreement focuses on the economy, with connections — border crossings, economic ties, border control, road, railway links and river transport — in the spotlight, he said. The reconstruction of the Budapest-Belgrade railway line will be completed by 2025, creating a transport route through Serbia and Hungary for goods from Greek ports to the west and vice versa, he said.
Orbán noted the growing cargo traffic at the border crossings between the two countries. The Röszke-Horgos and Tompa-Kelebia (Kelebija) crossings will undergo major reconstruction to increase their capacity by the end of 2022, and the government is looking into opening the crossing at Hercegszántó-Bereg (Backi Breg) for cargo traffic, he said.
Regarding energy cooperation, Orbán said the interconnector allowing the transport of 8.5 billion cubic meters of liquid natural gas to Hungary annually was of “strategic importance” for the country’s energy security.
Besides the agreement signed by the heads of government, Hungarian and Serbian ministers signed agreements on cooperation in agriculture, economy, joint border patrols, hovercraft services between the two capitals and other projects.
Serbian PM praises cooperation with Hungary as ‘extremely successful’
Serbia and Hungary have developed a highly successful cooperation over the past seven years, Ana Brnabic, the Serbian prime minister, said in Budapest on Wednesday, after meeting Viktor Orbán, his Hungarian counterpart.
Speaking at a joint press conference, Brnabic called the bilateral agreement concluded on strategic partnership “a pinnacle of cooperation” since the first Hungarian-Serbian joint government meeting held in 2014.
The partnership agreement, and several other bilateral agreements signed today, are results of that cooperation, confirming Serbia’s commitment to strengthening relations and deepening friendship with Hungary.
Brnabic thanked Hungary for its support to Serbia’s prospective EU integration. She noted a separate agreement signed at today’s meeting on Hungary sharing expertise in the progress.
Speaking about economic ties, Brnabic noted that Hungary is Serbia’s third most important business partner and is seen to become number two with bilateral trade continuing to rise. She highlighted joint infrastructural projects that reflect “a high level of mutual trust”.
Brnabic also thanked Orbán for his support to Hungary’s Serbian community, and confirmed Serbia’s support to its Hungarian community.
Featured photo by Zoltán Máthé/MTI