Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said on Wednesday in Belgrade Serbia was a strong and dependable partner in the fight against illegal migration and that there should be concrete steps forward in European integration for Western Balkan partners such as Serbia.

“It is encouraging that a lot has happened since our meeting (in Budapest). I thank Serbia and President (Aleksandar) Vucic for pushing for putting an end to asylum tourism that was due to visa liberalisation for India, Tunisia and other states. Vucic took Austria’s concerns seriously. We had a great number of asylum seekers from India. Vucic reacted and did not leave Austria in the lurch. That is valuable and it means a lot to us,” Nehammer told reporters after a trilateral summit with Vucic and Hungarian PM Viktor Orban on fighting illegal migration.

He said the activities of the three countries were a strong signal to Brussels.

“It is a strong signal that two EU member states – Hungary and Austria – are sending to Brussels from here together with Serbia, a really strong and dependable partner,” Nehammer said.

He noted that Austria was passionately fighting for EU accession of Western Balkan states.

Orban said that, from Hungary’s point of view, European security in terms of migration depended on Serbia because, by defending its own borders, Serbia was also defending Hungary and the rest of the continent.

He said trilateral cooperation and the fight against illegal migration would be much easier and more successful if Serbia was an EU member state, and added that Hungary was striving to make it possible for Serbia to become a full EU member as soon as possible.

“Until that happens, we will have to push the defensive barrier as far to the south as possible. Hungary will provide the personnel and equipment,” Orban said, noting that Hungary had spent 1.6 bln euros on border protection since 2015 and that Brussels had provided 1.2 pct of the amount.