Serbian PM: We will never build a wall to keep out refugees
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić told the Reuters news agency on 27 August that Serbia will never close its borders to refugees. He added that EU leaders must aid the creation of a plan for how to deal with the tens of thousands of refugees flowing to the Balkans.
Approximately 100 000 migrants, many from Syria and other conflict areas of the Middle East, have entered Serbia this year traveling north to Hungary and the Schengen free movement zone. Hungary is now building a fence four meters high and 175 kilometers long on its border with Serbia in an effort to prevent migrant inflows.
"We will never build any fences or walls," Vučić said in an interview prior to yesterday's high-level meeting between representatives of Western Balkans countries in Vienna. "We're talking about desperate people, we're not talking about criminals or terrorists. They're just seeking a better life for themselves and their children: They need aid, they don't need judgment and punishment. You can't stop the flow of life with fences."
Vučić said the refugees will just find other ways to reach Western Europe. "They can come through Bulgaria and Romania, they can go to Croatia," he noted.
Serbia claims that of the approximately 100 000 refugees who have passed through its territory so far this year, many of them crossed into Hungary. Belgrade is aiming to begin negotiations on EU membership and has received several hundreds of thousands of euro from the EU-28 to aid refugees, but according to Vučič, those funds are not enough to cover the costs of caring for them.
The Serbian PM said another three million euro have been allocated for refugees and that Serbia has built three centers for them before the winter sets in. Vučić took office in Serbia last year in the spring after his Serbian Progressive Party won the elections; regular elections are next scheduled for 2018.
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