KELEBIJA – The problem of illegal migration facing Serbia and Hungary is also affecting several EU member states, so they should join forces to solve it, Serbian Police Director Milorad Veljovic said on Wednesday.

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Veljovic toured the Kelebija border crossing with Chief Commissioner of the Hungarian police Karoly Papp, with whom he agreed to step up activities aimed at foiling attempts at crossing the border illegally and determining the motive behind this migration.

Pointing to the good cooperation between the Serbian and Hungarian police on the control of the joint border, Veljovic said that 20 police officers will arrive in Serbia from Germany on Thursday, with vehicles equipped with thermo visual cameras.

“Austrians will arrive soon, and they will be engaged at the crossing toward Macedonia, where there is also high pressure of migrants,” he said.

Veljovic said that around 50 gendarmes are also engaged at the Hungarian border crossing, together with members of the Serbian and Hungarian border police, who already today caught nine people attempting to cross the border unlawfully.

He noted that previously illegal migrants had mostly been poor, the people who could not make ends meet; then recently there was a rise in the number of middle class people, and now there are even highly educated people among migrants.

Children account for 40 percent of the total number of migrants, he said.

“Whether this is only an economic problem- we need to ascertain this and resolve the problem together,” Veljovic said.

The Serbian police director said on Wednesday that the Lira hotel at Palic, in the Serbian province of Vojvodina, was closed on Tuesday in collaboration with the tourist inspectorate. The hotel offered accommodation for migrants from Kosovo-Metohija.

Veljovic said that the hotel was rented in September last year, but it turned out the migrants prepared money in advance for paying the mandatory penalties in Serbia.

“This is a reason for doubt that the entire process (of illegal migration from KiM) is organized,” he said, adding that in the previous period, around 40 people had been arrested for smuggling.

Since 2009, a total of 60,000 travel documents have been issued to Albanians from KiM, who are entitled to them as Serbian citizens, Veljovic noted.

He called on citizens not to leave their territory.” It is not in our interest that Serbian citizens leave their country,” Veljovic said.

Chief Commissioner of the Hungarian police Karoly Papp said that this problem requires a reaction at international level and joint measures.

He noted that a total of 23,200 illegal migrants had been registered in the previous period, which poses a serious burden to both countries.

In order to foil illegal migrations, new reception centers are being opened in Hungary. A majority of them are seeking asylum, and while the procedure is under way, they are trying to reach other EU member states, Papp said.

That is the reason why the Hungarian police stepped up its control along highways and at railway stations, he added.

Papp invited Serbian policemen to come to centers where the border is monitored with thermo visual cameras to see how this works, as that would help them act where and when there is a need for that.

Veljovic and Papp noted that smuggling is a profitable business, so Serbia and Hungary harmonized the activities aimed at countering smuggling so as to facilitate the arrest and prosecution of smugglers.

The police directors of the two countries also toured the Horgos-Roszke border crossing on Wednesday.