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Statement by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán following a summit on migration with the President of Serbia and the Chancellor of Austria

Thank you very much. First of all, I would like to thank President Vučić and also Chancellor Nehammer for the opportunity of this meeting today.

Hungary is a country in a special situation. We are under direct pressure from two sources: one of our neighbours is Ukraine, from where we are under pressure caused by war; and another of our neighbours to the south is Serbia, through which we are under pressure from migration.

I must also say a few words about yesterday’s incident, because it resulted in the deaths of Polish citizens; it is important that we express our sympathy, and that we recognise that war in a neighbouring country means that we are in danger. We are in danger in an economic sense, but also in a physical sense. The fact that Poland has now lost lives on its own territory clearly shows that if your neighbour is at war, you are not safe either. And the fact that yesterday’s bombing has resulted in Hungary’s oil supply from the east being cut off – perhaps to be restored by this afternoon – clearly shows that our economy is also at risk. And if you, your citizens and your economy are in danger, then your efforts must be directed towards a single goal: warding off that danger. Today the only way of warding off this immediate danger is something called a ceasefire. We want peace and a ceasefire.

I would like to thank President Vučić for his cooperation in recent years. There is indeed something special about Serbian-Hungarian cooperation. There is a good phrase for this in Hungarian: I do not know if it makes sense in Serbian, but in Hungarian we say that we are in “a community of fate”. This community of fate means that one is together with another through good times and bad – sometimes helping them out and sometimes being helped out by them. This is not a question of politics, but a question of one’s survival instinct. Just like individuals, nations also have a survival instinct; and the Hungarian survival instinct – and also, I think, the Serbian survival instinct – is that, being in a community of fate, we must work together. This is what we have been trying to do in recent years, and I am grateful to President Vučić for the fact that in this I can salute the best Serbian partner in Hungary’s history..

As far as the migration situation in Hungary is concerned, this year we have stopped 250,000 illegal border crossing attempts. Moreover, not only are there ever more of these, but the level of aggression is also rising. The people smugglers are now not only armed, but they sometimes use their weapons against the Hungarian officials guarding the border. The situation is clearly a difficult one. Yet this meeting is not only important for Hungary, but also for the whole Balkan region: not only are we Hungarians suffering, but the whole Balkan region is suffering from migration. I have been fighting illegal migration for quite a long time, and I have heard all about how to fight it well. Based on my experiences over the past few years, however, I can tell you for sure that I believe in only one method: to declare that migration must not be managed, but stopped. The only circumstance in which migrants will not come into your country – the only circumstance in which they will not try to enter your country – is when they know that they will not succeed. If they think they will succeed, they will come. So we have to make it clear that they cannot enter our countries by illegal means. So migration must not be managed. People in Brussels often use the term “well-managed migration”. There is no such thing as well-managed migration! Migration in itself is something bad, so we must protect ourselves against it and stop it. And crossing a border illegally is a crime against which action must be taken. Since 2015 Hungary has spent 1.6 billion euros on border defence. Brussels has reimbursed only 1.2 per cent of this. It is clear that we can only count on ourselves.

Here I must say that, looking at the world from Hungary’s perspective, it is quite clear that today the key country for European security is Serbia. When Serbia defends its own borders it is not only defending itself, but also defending Hungary, defending Austria and defending the entire European Union. For this we owe Serbia our respect and our thanks. From this it is also clear that it is in the European interest for Serbia to be a member of the European Union. If Serbia were already within the European Union and this tripartite cooperation were a regional cooperation within the EU, we would be able to much more easily deal with the issue of migration, much more easily defend ourselves against migration, and much more easily stop migration. So Hungary continues to urge the European Union to make full membership possible for Serbia as soon as possible.

Until that happens, our only aim should be to move the defence lines as far south as possible and to create a joint border defence force with Serbia and Austria. Hungary will immediately provide the personnel and technical equipment necessary for this. We need to recognise that this is not a short-term problem, but that this problem – this affliction which we call migration – will be with us for a longer period of time; and therefore we must strive for long-term cooperation and permanent structures. Today we have taken an important step in this direction.

I thank President Vučić for making this meeting possible for us.