On the 16th November, the leaders of Austria, Hungary and Serbia met in the Serbian capital city of Belgrade to discuss and strike a deal in favour of strengthening the three nations’ respective borders against further waves of illegal migrants. As expected, a deal was quickly struck and the three countries immediately began their co-operative work on further securing their borders.
One of the main factors that led to the rapid agreement and signing of the new treaty on co-operation between Austria, Hungary and Serbia in securing their borders against illegal migration is the common ground that the three nations have when it comes to desiring the preservation of their national security:
“The EU’s asylum system has failed…We have come to the point where individual EU countries are looking for new forms of partnership outside what is possible in the EU.” – Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer
“We do not need to manage migration – we need to stop it…We need to show them [migrants] that they cannot cross.” – Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban
“We are ready to move further south together – with North Macedonia – and thus protect both Europe and our own country…” – Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić
The new deal also came about in the wake of a significant increase in the number of illegal migrants passing through the “Balkan Route” from the Middle-East and Africa. While the overwhelming majority of these migrants are merely passing through the Balkans and Central Europe in order to reach more attractive destinations for themselves – such as Germany, Sweden, the UK, etc. – an increase in crime and other forms of unruliness from these foreign passers-by on their way to Northern and Western Europe has long since been a headache for the countries lying in between their respective homelands and their desired destinations.
According to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, there have been over 250,000 recorded illegal crossings attempted by migrants over the course of this year alone. In order to further combat this staggering statistic, Austria and Hungary have also pledged to aid Serbia in deporting all migrants via plane back to their respective countries of origin if they are deemed to be from safe countries and/or have not applied for legal asylum in Serbia or any European Union member state.
The previous statement made by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić also heavily implies that future anti-migrant border policies will be strengthened on the Serbia-North Macedonia border. Currently, and in previous years, the “frontline” of the “Balkan Route” has been the Serbia-Hungary border. Such a move from the north of Serbia to the south would effectively alleviate Hungary of its own ongoing border problems, but will also likely bring about an increase in North Macedonia’s own participation in these new “border wars”.
As part of the new border security agreement, Serbia will be hiring over a hundred new border security staff members to help secure the Serbia-North Macedonia migrant route, as well as utilising new equipment to further aid the security forces. Such logistics include new vehicles, night and thermal vision goggles, plus drones.
The majority of migrants travelling through the “Balkan Route” come from Syria and Afghanistan, but thousands of migrants also come from Africa and Southeast Asia, claiming to be victims of war, persecution and poverty.
While the majority of EU member states remain at loggerheads over how best to deal with the ongoing migrant crisis – especially when the bloc is also struggling to deal with the massive influxes of Ukrainian refugees and anti-Putin Russian citizens entering their respective countries – this new agreement signed by Austria, Hungary and Serbia is a positive new step towards a strengthening of Europe’s Southeastern borders and serves as an example of what can happen when patriotic European states come together to co-operate on matters of mutual importance for the safety and future of their nations.
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