Croatian PM told to "leave Hungarians and Serbs alone"
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto says the governments of Serbia and Hungary never had an agreement about the direction of movement of refugees.Source: Tanjug
Szijjarto in this way responded to allegations made by Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic that the Belgrade and Budapest had a deal to send refugees from third countries to Croatia. Speaking for Tanjug, Szijjarto also sent a message to Milanovic "to leave Serbs and Hungarians alone and conduct his election campaign inside Croatia."
"I understand that the election campaign is already under way in Croatia, so I have only one request for the Croatian prime minister, and that is to leave us alone. Both Serbs and Hungarians, on this issue," said the Hungarian minister.
In addition, the Hungarian minister, who is also in charge of trade, said that "we are not going to vote in Croatian elections and we don't need to be convinced of anything, let him conduct his election campaign within Croatia's borders."
Asked whether the accusations voiced by Milanovic were true, Szijjarto said that Hungarians "never had consultations about the direction in which migrants would go from Serbia."
"We never had an agreement with the government of Serbia about the route for migrants. Or about anything related to Croatia. Why would we do that? When we meet with members of the Serbian government and Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, we talk about our cooperation and not about Croatia," said Szijjarto.
He pointed out that the ultimatum that Croatia presented to Serbian authorities - that they would not open border crossings (to trucks) unless Belgrade started sending migrants to Hungary - was "absolutely against European values, solidarity and behavior."
Asked "whether Croatia could be penalized by the EU because of this," he replied:
"They are not behaving in accordance with EU rules, with the Dublin regulation. Croatia is also not registering migrants who enter its territory, and does not act in accordance with international conventions according to which the EU should treat migrants. They are simply delivering them to Hungary."
Szijjarto remarked he was "now waiting for the election campaign in Croatia to end."
"I hope that then the emotional level will be lower, and that after the election the next prime minister will occupy himself with Croats, not with Hungary," said the Hungarian minister.
Szijjarto noted that although a few weeks ago he described political relations between Hungary and Croatia as good, he now believes he was "too optimistic at the time."
"We should be strategic partners, because we helped Croatia a lot in joining the EU, and this is not appropriate behavior. We should have a much better relationship when we take into account the economy, trade, but this very low level of political relations will, unfortunately, also harm other forms of cooperation," he said.
According to Szijjarto, Milanovic's criticism of Hungary was unfair. "If he (Milanovic) had not spent time last weak complaining about Hungary, maybe his system for treatment of migrants would not have collapsed in 24 hours," remarked the Hungarian official.
"He (Milanovic) complained that we do not treat migrants well and that our system is not operational. And it took 24 hours to become evident that they cannot comply with EU regulations on this issue. And then he demonstratively announced he will not comply with EU rules and will send to Hungary groups of 1,000-2,000-3,000 people with no prior notice that would at least give us time to prepare. It is not European behavior," Szijjarto said, and added:
"On the other hand, we have never had such good and efficient relations with Serbia as we do now. And we have worked a lot to achieve it. Our two prime ministers made a special effort, the two ministers of foreign affairs as well."
He pointed out it was now important to note that due to the migrant problem and the situation on the border Serbia and Hungary could easily have ended up in a political conflict, but because their relations are very good that did not happen.
"There was no political conflict between Hungary and Serbia. Now you can see there is a political conflict between Croatia and Hungary, the Romanian prime minister has been mentioning us, but there are no negative comments from the Serbian side, and the opposite is true," the minister said.
He stressed that Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban intervened in the European Council praising the efforts of Serbia, and that Hungary wanted that included in the text of the conclusions - "but unfortunately no such decision was taken."
"And regardless of the fact it's not in the text, it is a fact and what Serbia is doing must be respected," Szijjarto said.