On Tuesday, Germany condemned Serbia’s “unacceptable” visa policy, saying it has fueled a migrant influx into the European Union, and urged the EU to act in concert during crucial discussions this week.
There are a number of nations whose nationals use Serbia as a springboard to enter the European Union, and Berlin is hostile to Belgrade’s visa-free travel rule for these countries.
Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser has announced that she and her EU counterparts will meet this Friday to address “the situation in Serbia and a boosted deployment of (the bloc’s border agency) Frontex.”
To paraphrase what she said to reporters in Berlin, “To put it clearly: Serbia’s visa process is inappropriate and is leading to (greater) movements on the Balkan route.”
Serbia, an EU candidate country, is located on the so-called Balkan route taken by refugees and migrants fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa on their way to Western Europe.
Although the route is much less congested than it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands still transit through the region annually.
According to the European Commission’s recently published 2022 report on migration and asylum, a “growing number of people” are flying into Serbia to take advantage of its “visa-free regimes.”
To reduce congestion on the route, it was stressed that Western Balkan allies “align their visa policy” with the EU.
According to Faeser, European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson scheduled a Thursday meeting with representatives from Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, Bulgaria, Greece, and Slovakia to discuss progress on the Balkan route in advance of Friday’s meetings.
Following “Putin’s tanks and missiles,” Faeser said that Germany had taken in over a million refugees from Ukraine since the assault began in February.
She expressed “worry” at the impact on the EU of refugees escaping the conflict in Ukraine, along with the “much more individuals” entering the bloc through the Mediterranean and the Balkan route.
So, in collaboration with Vienna, starting in November “to prevent illicit entries,” Berlin will extend border restrictions at the Austrian border for another six months.
She reaffirmed her previous statement that “we share responsibility for blocking illegal admissions” to ensure that aid reached those in need during this crisis.
Firefighters in the town of Apolda stopped an attack on a refugee shelter housing 147 Ukrainians on Monday, an indication of escalating tensions over the new arrivals, according to local media.