The EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, visited on 16th of March Serbia. She met with the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, as well as Prime Minister Ana Brnabić, the Minister for EU Integration Tanja Miščević and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ivica Dačić and witnessed the signature of an agreement through which Serbia becomes an associated member of the European Migration Network, a forum of migration experts in which data, policies and experiences on migration are being exchanged. Upon her arrival in the morning hours Commissioner Johansson first met with the Serbian Minister of Interior, Bratislav Gašić  at the Horgoš border crossing of the border Serbia-Hungary.  Both Minister Gašić and Commissioner Johansson were received at the border crossing by a joint patrol of the Serbian border police and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency – Frontex.

The newly appointed director of Frontex, Mr Hans Leijtens, accompanied Commissioner Johansson.

According to the Commissioner, the engagement of Frontex members on the territory of Serbia was a practical indicator of the commitment of the European Union in its cooperation with Serbia.

“Joint patrols guard the borders, work to prevent and suppress criminal activities and smugglers,” said Johansson and added that the next step in the cooperation is the revision of the agreement between Serbia and Frontex, which will give a new mandate to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.

“Since the beginning of the year, 881 illegal border crossings have been prevented along the border with Hungary, while that number, in the same period last year, was 172”, specified Minister Gašić and emphasized that Serbia will continue with the process of harmonization with the visa policy of the European Union.

“European Integrated Border Management (EIBM) can only work well in cooperation with partners,” Johansson tweeted with a photo from the border crossing.

Also, at the meeting with President Vučić, Commissioner Johansson said that Serbia has shown to be a close, reliable and responsible partner of the Union in managing  migration. That it is of great importance that the EU continues to provide vital support to the European integration of Serbia, with which it wants even closer cooperation in all areas of importance and common interest.

President Vučić thanked for the support and assistance of the European Union in managing migration, as well as for the recognition and appreciation of Serbia’s efforts in regulating the migrant crisis, because Serbia has taken its part of obligations seriously and responsibly from the beginning, which greatly contributes to the general security of the EU and its citizens.

He reiterated that EU membership remains one of Serbia’s foreign policy priorities and its strategic commitment, “emphasizing sincere commitment to the reform process” on the European road.

Prime Minister Brnabić agreed with Commissioner Johansson that Serbia has proven to be a reliable and responsible associate of the European Union in migration management. In this regard, today’s signing of the Agreement on Serbia’s Accession to the European Migration Network was particularly important. By assessing the cooperation with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX) as very good, Prime Minister Brnabić also thanked the EU for significant financial assistance for the needs of migration management and increasing institutional capacities for resolving migration and asylum issues.

Foreign Minister Dačić also pointed out that the Republic of Serbia was a reliable partner in the field of migration and emphasized the readiness of Serbia to continue working closely with the EU in this area. He also said that Serbia wanted to be part of the EU’s common policy in the area of visa policy, migration, security and the rule of law.

Johansson underlined in all her meetings that the EU and Serbia are actively working together to step up the fight against organised crime and smuggling of people at the borders.