Statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán following a migration summit with the President of Serbia and the Chancellor of Austria
3 October 2022, Budapest

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen.

We are grateful to Serbia for the presence of its president here, and to Austria for the presence of its chancellor. As was anticipated, this is the first meeting of a longer series. The reason for us coming together is migration. Standing before you are the leaders of three countries that are affected by this issue to the greatest possible extent. All three of us suffer from the effects of illegal migration. It consumes a huge amount of energy, manpower and enormous sums of money, and we are not at all happy with the situation that has developed. We have concluded that the border guards of the Serbs, the border guards of the Hungarians and the police and soldiers protecting the Austrian border are fighting a heroic battle to curb illegal migration and to combat people smugglers. We have nothing but the highest praise for the performance of our uniformed officers. Despite this, the situation is becoming more difficult, and the numbers and the facts more alarming. Today the world has other pressing problems, and the main focus of attention has turned to them: there is the war between Russia and Ukraine, the problem of high energy prices and the sanctions that are plaguing us all. Not enough attention is being paid to migration, yet it is at least as important as these other two issues. What we are now attempting is to face up to the situation and to develop measures. Hungary has initiated this meeting because we are in the most extraordinary situation, experiencing the problem of migration from two directions: as a result of the Russo-Ukrainian war, more than a million refugees have arrived from the east, from Ukraine; meanwhile our border is under continuous siege from the south. This year alone we have had to nullify around 180,000 attempts to cross our border illegally.

Looking to the future, there are some developments ahead that will further exacerbate the situation. Firstly, I do not see any change in the Brussels policy which creates pull factors encouraging migration. The question of migrant redistribution quotas keeps being raised again and again. We are facing a so-called “post-Cotonou“ grand pan-European agreement, a world economic downturn due to war and sanctions, and a world food crisis. These together will increase the intensity of illegal migration. Of the migration routes into Europe, the most severely affected is the one on which most migrants travel: the Western Balkan route. In addition, we have noticed – and this is a particular difficulty for us Serbs and Hungarians – that illegal migration and the activity of people smugglers has reached a new level in qualitative terms: lethal weapons are being used in conflicts among migrants themselves and against our border guards. Our three countries are not simply defending our own borders – here, of course, I speak primarily on behalf of Hungary – but we are defending the whole of Europe. Hungary is fulfilling its obligations as a Schengen Area member, but it would be in our interest – in the interest of Europe as a whole and in the interest of all three of us standing here – to push this line of defence as far south as possible. Today the primary line of defence is the Serbian-Hungarian border, and it is in the interests of us all to move this line further south. We – both Hungary and Austria – have been providing assistance to Serbia and Northern Macedonia, but we feel that now a new dimension of cooperation is needed. Therefore, after today’s meeting to clarify intentions and set the political direction, there will soon be a further meeting in Belgrade. There the relevant ministers will meet and specific measures will be given the appropriate legal form; and if there is a collective step forward, which we would like, that is where there will be clarification of the associated financial and personnel implications. And we are also planning a third meeting, which will be hosted by the Chancellor in Vienna.

Thank you very much for your attention.