After inspecting Hungary's southern border with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and former Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš on Thursday, President Katalin Novák said the protection of the Hungary-Serbia border also serves the protection of Europe.
Speaking in Kelebia, the president said the border is a symbol of sovereignty “which guarantees our ability to preserve our security”. In order for Europe to remain “an island of peace” in the long run, a distinction must be made between illegal immigrants and refugees, President Novák said. Hungary takes in the refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine and helps them in every way it can, she said, noting that over a million people have been admitted since the start of the conflict. But Hungary has been taking the firmest possible action against illegal immigration “from the very first moment”, President Novák said. Migration pressure is rising, she added, noting that 261,000 migrants had attempted to enter Hungary illegally this year, which was twice as many as last year. President Novák said there was a growing number of human smugglers and those that want to cross the border illegally are more aggressive than ever before. Attacks against border patrols have become frequent. The president said some 90% of border violators arrive from the direction of Serbia which makes bilateral cooperation in border defense especially important.
In response to a question, President Novák said it was not in Europe’s interest to keep Romania and Bulgaria outside the Schengen area. “This is also connected with migration because external borders are easier to protect if they are closer to the countries of origin,” she added. In response to another question, Novák said the war in Ukraine posed a serious challenge to Europe and a great part of the world. In addition to the direct effects of the war, challenges include inflation, economic difficulties and hitches in the energy supply, she said. One of the solutions is to strengthen Europe’s energy independence, she said, adding that leaders who are able to effectively handle economic difficulties were needed. Novák said she agreed with a journalist’s suggestion that a stronger police presence was needed along the Hungarian-Serbian border.
Former Czech prime minister Andrei Babiš said after inspecting the Hungarian-Serbian border section that illegal migration was organised by human smugglers who collect billions of euros from those that flee their countries and are encouraged to leave their homes with promises of a better life. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said Serbia had introduced two measures against illegal migration. In line with an EU request, it stopped the issuance of visas for the citizens of four countries and strengthened the protection of borders with North Macedonia and Bulgaria.