BELGRADE, Serbia – Serbia has denounced Hungary's insistence on building a border fence to stop the flow of illegal migrants and urged the European Union to say whether it will tolerate new man-made divisions on its territory.
Ignoring widespread international scorn, Hungary's center-right government has said it will go ahead and build a temporary fence on its southern border with Serbia as fast as possible. The plan leaves a bitter taste in Serbia whose leadership is keen to become part of the EU rather than be isolated from it.-
"Europe must decide whether the time of building walls belongs to the past or to the future," Serbia's Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said Thursday.
"I thought the Berlin Wall has fallen, but now new walls are being constructed," he added, referencing the wall that divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989.
"We are absolutely and fiercely against their (Hungary's) decision to build a fence," he said at a joint press conference with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias. "This is no longer an issue that concerns only Serbia and Hungary, or Greece. This is an issue that Europe must resolve."
Kotzias, whose country has been hit hard by the mass exodus of migrants from the Middle East and Africa, said the EU needs to act before the problem gets even more dramatic.
"If we want the EU to be the role model for the rest of the world, we must show it and affirm it with solving the migrants' issues," he said. "The EU must show that it is capable of solving this problem. If we leave things in the Balkans as they are today, the Balkan societies will become more xenophobic and turn toward the right."
More than 60,000 migrants fleeing wars and poverty have entered EU-member Hungary this year by using the route across the Balkans, nearly all by crossing the border with Serbia. Most of those who request refugee status in Hungary quickly leave for other destinations in western Europe, like Austria, Germany and Sweden.