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Austria-Hungary-Serbia Alliance Against Irregular Migration

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On November 16, 2022, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met with Serbian President Alexander Vucic and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, in Belgrade, and the parties signed a memorandum of understanding to fight irregular migration.[1]

The three countries are known for their strict stance on irregular migration toward Europe. Austria and Hungary are members of the European Union (EU), while Serbia has the status of a candidate country. In addition to this, Austria and Hungary and Serbia and Hungary share a land border. Moreover, these three states are pursuing policies that oppose the EU’s stance on migration. This is an important factor in the increase of cooperation between Budapest, Vienna, and Belgrade on irregular migration.

It can be said that the perceived “border security threat” is effective in the cooperation of the parties in the face of the problem. It can be said that the nucleus of this alliance was laid in Budapest on October 3, 2022. Accordingly, the leaders of the three states outlined the plan to prevent irregular migration to their countries. In this context, the parties agreed to act together to control the arrival of new migrants along the migration route through Serbia.[2] Therefore, the most important detail of this plan is that the three states will develop common policies against new migration movements, especially from the Serbia route. For this reason, it can be foreseen that Belgrade, Budapest, and Vienna will take strict measures against irregular migration in the future.

Furthermore, Austria and Hungary are among the most important actors striving for the accession of Serbia, which has EU candidate status, to the bloc. This indicates that the relations between the three countries are based on solid foundations. Therefore, cooperation between the parties can be evaluated not only within the framework of security but also as a multi-dimensional. In particular, it should be noted that the “energy” factor occupies an important place in the relations between Serbia and Hungary. As a matter of fact, on October 10, 2022, Belgrade and Budapest agreed to build a pipeline to transport Russian oil to Serbia.[3]

In taking the decision, the EU’s inclusion of energy in the pressure against Russia on the occasion of the 8th sanctions package played an important role.  Until then, Serbia had been receiving Russian oil through Croatia through the Adriatic Oil Pipeline (JANAF). However, under EU sanctions, Belgrade is prohibited from importing Russian oil through the pipeline. For this reason, Hungary has shown solidarity with Serbia. All these developments are concrete evidence that the relations between Belgrade and Budapest are multifaceted.

However, the leaders of the countries in the alliance resolution against irregular migration adopted on November 16, 2022, expressed their concerns about a possible migrant crisis that could be worse than in 2015. In this context, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer stated that his country’s cooperation with Serbia and Hungary is imperative due to the failure of the EU’s asylum system. Moreover, Nehammer added that the two EU members, Vienna and Budapest, have sent a clear message to Brussels that Serbia is a reliable partner.[4]

Serbian President Vucic said the number of registered migrants in his country has nearly doubled compared to the previous year, and that Belgrade, with the support of Vienna and Budapest, will employ more police officers at the North Macedonian border.[5]

Hungarian Prime Minister Orban stated that migration should be prevented, not managed, and that Hungary and Austria share their fate with Serbia and that working together is of great importance in this critical issue.[6]

As can be seen from the statements of the leaders of the states concerned, it is seen that the biggest message in the fight against irregular migration is given to the EU. Therefore, this is a harbinger of the formation of a new anti-immigrant bloc in Europe. In this sense, it can be argued that some new countries may join Austria, Hungary, and Serbia in the future.

It is also understood that Budapest and Vienna continue to “lobby” Belgrade. This is due to the stance adopted by Serbia in terms of ensuring the border security of Austria and Hungary.

Consequently, as a result of the negotiations held in October 2022, the three countries took critical steps to increase border security, and an alliance agreement was signed on November 16, 2022. In this context, it can be foreseen that the relations on the Belgrade-Budapest-Vienna line may develop further within the “security framework.” Also, it can be said that there is a multidimensional cooperation between the parties and that the relations are built on solid foundations.


[1] Nikolaus J. Kurmayer- Zoran Radosavljevic, “Austria Teams Up With Hungary, Serbia to End Asylum a la Carte”, Euractiv, https://www.euractiv.com/section/politics/news/austria-teams-up-with-hungary-serbia-to-end-asylum-a-la-carte/, (Date of Accession:18.11.2022).

[2] “Hungary, Austria and Serbia Leaders Outline Plan to Curb Migration”, Euronews, https://www.euronews.com/2022/10/04/hungary-austria-and-serbia-leaders-outline-plan-to-curb-migration, (Date of Accession:18.11.2022).

[3] “Hungary, Serbia Agree to Build Pipeline to Ship Russian Oil to Serbia”, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/hungary-serbia-agree-build-pipeline-ship-russian-oil-serbia-hungarian-govt-2022-10-10/, (Date of Accession:18.11.2022).

[4] Talha Öztürk, “Serbia, Hungary, Austria Agree to Step Up Efforts Against İllegal Migration”, Anadolu Agency, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/europe/serbia-hungary-austria-agree-to-step-up-efforts-against-illegal-migration/2740508, (Date of Accession:18.11.2022).

[5] Ibid.

[6] Kurmayer- Radosavljevic, op.cit.

Cemal Ege ÖZKAN
Cemal Ege ÖZKAN
Cemal Ege Özkan, 2019 yılında Ankara Üniversitesi Dil ve Tarih-Coğrafya Fakültesi Tarih Bölümü’nden mezun olmuştur. Yüksek lisans derecesini, 2022 senesinde aynı üniversitenin Türk İnkılap Tarihi Enstitüsü Atatürk İlkeleri ve İnkılap Tarihi Anabilim Dalı’nda hazırladığı “Türk Siyasi Hayatında Selim Rauf Sarper ve Faaliyetleri” başlıklı teziyle almıştır. Hâlihazırda aynı enstitüde doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. 2020-2021 yılları arasında Türk Tarih Kurumu Yüksek Lisans Bursiyeri olan Özkan, iyi derecede İngilizce bilmektedir.