Hungary's border fence – Photo: wikipedia

Szijjarto: Migration reaches ‘new level of danger’

Migration pressure at Hungary's southern border has reached a "new level of danger", the foreign minister said in Subotica (Szabadka), in northern Serbia, after meeting Nikola Selakovic, his Serbian counterpart on Monday.

Peter Szijjarto insisted that migrants were “increasingly aggressive and violent”, adding that “they now have weapons and they use them”.

Szijjarto said Europe was facing “dramatic challenges” including a “permanent inflationary environment” due to the war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia.

“The migrant crisis is aggravating… and Hungary has to face that challenge presenting itself as pressure from the south and the east at the same time,” he said.

He told a joint press conference that as a result of the increasingly intensive war in Ukraine, the number of migrants at Hungary’s eastern borders was growing, with over 10,000 refugees arriving daily, totalling over 820,000 so far.

“Concurrently, the pressure of migration is growing. More than 110,000 illegal migrants have been stopped at our southern border so far,” he said and added that increasingly violent migrants carrying guns posed a security threat for both Serbia and Hungary. “We must make it clear that this is not a human rights issue,” he said. “I would like to make it clear that these people attacking our police and acting aggressively in Serbia, shooting guns, have no right whatsoever to enter Hungary’s territory,” he added.

Szijjarto said the migrants had been crossing through safe countries and violated several borders, which means that they arrived in Serbia by committing a series of crimes and “nobody has the right to act this way”. The situation will get increasingly serious because the war in Ukraine results in the threat of famine at several locations in the world, he said. “The food supply crisis will most probably put a more serious migratory pressure on Serbia and Hungary alike. As a result, I believe we are in the last hour that Brussels and NGOs linked to [US financier] George Soros should stop encouraging migrants and organising migration,” he added.

“We are asking Brussels and NGOs linked to Soros not to encourage the migrants, not to abet them to commit crimes and to violate the sovereignty of countries, such as Serbia and Hungary,” he said. The responsibility for violent crimes committed by migrants, including acts that caused the loss of lives, lies with those that encourage migrants to come to Serbia and Hungary, he said.

Szijjarto said Hungary would not allow any illegal migrants to enter and advised them to not even try. “It is not worth coming to Serbia because they will not be able to move on to Hungary,” he added.

He said that while Hungary was fulfilling its duty to let in and help people fleeing from war in the east and to stop the illegal migrants in the south, Brussels was holding back monies due to Hungary “in an effort of political blackmail”.

Szijjarto also said that cooperation between Serbia and Hungary was a success story, with a spectacular increase in trade between the two countries. During the first four months of this year, trade increased by 117 percent compared to the same period of last year and the increase was 42 percent in the whole of 2021 compared to the year before, he added.

He said the modernisation of the Belgrade – Budapest railway link, “the largest joint effort of all times”, had already entered a phase of implementation also in Hungary. As a result, under an agreement signed by the ministers on Monday, rail traffic on the line will be stopped from August 1 and cargo traffic will be moved to the Szeged-Subotica line which had been refurbished.

Commenting on energy issues, he said the two countries had recently made arrangements to ensure that “natural gas from Russia, which is critical for the security of energy supplies in Serbia, as well as in Hungary, and for the time being cannot be replaced, should securely arrive in Serbia and Hungary,” he said.

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