Migrants at the Turkish-Greece land border | Photo: EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU
Migrants at the Turkish-Greece land border | Photo: EPA/TOLGA BOZOGLU

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said his country will in no way turn into a "parking lot" for tens or hundreds of thousands of migrants, following Turkey's decision to open its borders toward Greece to refugees on its soil.

Serbia is ready to face a new migratory influx and to show solidarity with refugees, but at the same time it intends to strongly defend its national interests and in no way is it willing to turn into a sort of parking lot for tens or hundreds of thousands of migrants, said Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. 

Vucic's comments came in response to Turkey's decision to allow thousands of migrants to cross the border with Greece and Bulgaria to follow their journey towards western Europe. 

'We have sufficient forces to defend our borders'

"If someone is really thinking of sending 100,000, 150,000, or 200,000 people to Serbia, he's wrong, that won't happen," Vucic told public broadcaster RTS. "We will not allow Serbia to be made into a giant parking lot for war games or economic aims," he said, adding that at the same time, the country doesn't intend to put up walls. 

"We have sufficient forces, military and police, to defend our borders," he said. 

Vucic said the first thing is to show solidarity, the second is to respect human feelings and hospitality, and the third is to defend national and state interests. 

He said Serbia is able to receive up to 10,000 refugees, but no one should think that country can turn into a parking lot for enormous masses of migrants. Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic expressed a similar position. 

During the dramatic migratory crisis of 2015 and 2016, at least a million migrants crossed Serbia, marching along the Balkan route towards countries in western Europe.

More police officers for incidents with refugees 

Meanwhile, supplementary police forces were sent on Saturday, February 29, to Sid, a town in the country's northwest at the border with Croatia, where incidents and acts of violence by groups of migrants against the local residents have risen. 

Vucic said the presence of supplementary forces was needed in order to guarantee local residents' safety and restore public order. He said protests and complaints by local residents have increased recently against migrant misbehavior, including in many cases breaking into private homes to steal, frightening the people inside. 

In Sid, groups of migrants have been present for years along the Balkan route who try to pass into Croatia in order to continue their journeys to western Europe.

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