Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic reacted on Wednesday against Hungarian’s decision to build a four-metre high, 175 kilometre-long fence to stem the flow of illegal migrants from the Serbian border.
“Nobody builds walls in a modern world you know, and particularly not in a part of Europe,” Vucic told reporters during a visit to Oslo, adding “We were very surprised, and also, we are not going to do the same to Macedonia as the Hungarians.”
“We will discuss this decision with our Hungarian colleagues," the Serbian Prime Minister also said while speaking on RTS state television.
“Building walls is not the solution. Serbia can't be responsible for the situation created by the migrants, we are just a transit country. Is Serbia responsible for the crisis in Syria?”
Also the United Nations (UN) Refugee Agency’s regional spokesperson Kitty McKinsey told Reuters that she is condemning Hungary’s fence plan saying, “The right to seek asylum is an inalienable human right, so we are concerned that erecting a fence would place too many barriers to this right.”
The Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks also reacted against the planned Hungarian fence. “Hungary’s plan to build a fence to stop migrants is ill-advised. Focus should be on ensuring access to asylum, not impeding it,” tweeted on his personal account.
On the other hand, Hungarian security policy expert Gyorgy Nogradi told national TV channel M1 that the move was a necessary one, and other EU countries are also preparing to close their borders. Immigrants traveling by sea are usually destined for Greece or Italy, but those traveling overland aim for Hungary, which is on the outer border of the EU. Once
Hungary’s fence is in place, he added, and it will be up to Serbia to block its own border with Macedonia.
Pope Francis meanwhile demanded greater respect for refugees on Wednesday, saying "I invite everyone to ask God's pardon for those people and institutions who close the door to those who are seeking a family, who are seeking to be protected."
EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos on Tuesday said "We have made progress today but we are not there yet, words are not enough," after European interior ministers failed to come to a decision on proposals to redistribute 40,000 Syrians and Eritreans who have arrived in Europe and to resettle 20,000 Syrians living in camps outside Europe during talks in Luxembourg.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban previously criticised the European Union’s proposals for migrant quotas as "bordering on insanity."
According to the details of the quota proposal, the number of migrants each European member country would have to accept will depend on its GDP, unemployment rate and the number of registered migrants it already houses.
Hungarian Interior Minister Sandor Pinter said that Hungary was the biggest state that accepted refugees among EU countries last year after Sweden, taking in 43,000. The number is huge in comparison to the 2,000 the country accepted in 2012.
At the beginning of 2015, migrants entering Hungary reached 54,000 but it is expected that 130,000 will enter by the end of the year.
Hungary is not the only EU member country building an anti-immigration fence. Bulgaria is the first EU member state that built a fence along its border with Turkey in 2014, to prevent the millions of refugees taken in by Turkey from Syria and Iraq entering.
A pre-existing fence around the north African Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla also work to prevent sub-Saharan migrants attempting to enter Spanish territory from Morocco.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi recently invited other countries to take in some of the migrants while warning of a “Plan B that will wound Europe” by allowing migrants to cross the continent.
More than 100,000 migrants have arrived in Europe this year, 60,000 through Italy alone, the EU's border agency Frontex has claimed.