Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin has defended his country's treatment of migrants in a speech to the parliament. He also warned that Serbia does not intend to become "a parking area for migrants".
Serbian Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin, speaking to the Serbian parliament on Wednesday, said his country has a humane and correct approach towards migrants, and that it fights illegal activities by human traffickers with all available tools.
The minister said that all reception centers for migrants and refugees in Serbia provided heat, sanitary services, three meals a day, and medical assistance.
'No parking area for migrants'
He also said that accords were needed between nearby countries, in particular in terms of the fight against human traffickers. "But in no case can Serbia become a parking area for migrants, who enter, leave or stay in our country as they please," he said.
Vulin also criticized the European Union's inability to establish a common migration policy. Efforts to establish a new EU-wide asylum and migration policy have been stalled by disagreements between member states -- many Mediterranean countries like Italy and Greece have demanded more burden sharing, while Serbia's neighbor Hungary, Poland, and Czech Republic do not want to take in any refugees and migrants.
Serbia is a transit country for many migrants and refugees hoping eventually to reach Western EU countries such as Italy or Germany. Many people have been stuck for months, unable to cross the border into neighboring EU countries Croatia, Hungary or Romania. Authorities in all three countries have been accused of illegal pushbacks -- of forcing foreigners back across the border without giving them the opportunity to ask for asylum.
Croatian police has repeatedly been accussed of illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers, as have Romanian border authorities. Both countries have denied these accusations. Hungary was recently found guilty by the EU's highest court of illegal deportations to Serbia.
Meanwhile, Serbian authorities have also been found guilty of illegal pushbacks to its southeastern neighbor Bulgaria.