Hungary, Austria, and Serbia on Monday agreed to expand cooperation in fighting “illegal migration,” according to Serbian local media.
The move came after the leaders of the countries met in Hungary’s capital Budapest.
Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban said in a news conference that his country, together with Serbia and Austria, are victims of “illegal migration,” news agency Tanjug reported.
“The world has more important problems and attention is generally directed towards them.
“For example, the Russia-Ukraine war, high energy prices, and sanctions policy affect us all. Therefore, the necessary importance is not given to immigration. In fact, this is at least as important as the others,” said Orban.
About 1 million people arrived in Hungary from Ukraine due to the ongoing Moscow-Kyiv war and irregular migrants are trying to enter Hungary from the southern border, he added.
“Hungary, Serbia, and Austria protect not only themselves but also Europe, Orban noted that Europe’s current defense border is the Serbia-Hungary border, and it is in everyone’s interest to push it further south,” Orban also said.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said “illegal migration” to his country has increased through Serbia and Hungary.
Nehammer also said the EU’s asylum system needs to be changed urgently.
Meanwhile, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the increase in the number of “illegal migrants” creates a bigger problem in his country, adding that Serbia does not want to be a migration center.
Speaking about the recent economic challenges, Vucic said the European Central Bank and EU member countries should take the necessary measures to protect the value of the euro.
“The oil prices increased with the appreciation of the dollar, while the depreciation of the euro had a serious impact on the countries around the EU,” Vucic added.
Orban, referring to the issue, said Hungary has enough gas reserves to meet the consumption needs for the next five to six months.
He also noted that Hungary would help its southern neighbor Serbia with supplies if needed.
Serbia in July purchased 500 million more cubic meters (over 17.6 billion cubic feet) of gas from two Hungarian companies for €250 million ($252 million).
The gas would be stored in two facilities in Hungary until Oct. 1, he said, after which 3 million cubic meters of that gas would be available per day until February.
In late May, Hungary announced that it would allow Serbia to store natural gas in its storage facilities for the winter.