Hungary close to completing fence on Croatian border

Viktor Orban promised to consult with others as Hungary moves to complete a razor wire fence along its Croatian border, a decision that would block the flow of migrants and insert more confusion into an already chaotic situation in the Balkans.

Advertisement

The government in Zagreb then accused Serbia of shunting the refugees into its territory and closed the cargo crossing in retaliation.

The United Nations has said it could see no easing of the flow of refugees into Europe, with 8,000 arrivals daily, and that the problems now facing governments may turn out to be only “the tip of the iceberg”.

The visit comes after Orban and Faymann engaged in heated exchanges on the sidelines of a Brussels summit on Wednesday, during which European Union leaders agreed to boost aid for Syria’s neighbours, as well as strengthen their borders to deal with the wave of migrants.

“We had planned to open the border today but now we have to react to this”, Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic, whose centre-left cabinet faces a parliamentary election this year, said after Serbia imposed the ban.

The European Union member told Serbia to start re-directing the refugees and migrants towards Hungary and Romania, halting border traffic to try to put pressure on Belgrade.

“It needs only this one number to clarify that we are dealing not only with a German challenge, not only with a European, but a global challenge, which each region, every country, every political level, each institution has to contribute to addressing, ” she said. Such reaction by Croatia was provoked by the high inflow of refugees from the Middle East and Africa who arrived from the Hungarian border that was at the time completely blocked for them.

On Saturday Hungary issued an angry rebuke to Croatia, demanding that Zagreb “stop criticising” its stance towards the refugee crisis.

The intervention appeared to work, with Croatia’s interior minister lifting the restrictions at 1500 GMT and Serbia following suit several hours later. More than 60,000 migrants have entered Croatia in the past week.

“They didn’t provide us any help at all“. Austrian officials have been critical of Hungary’s border fences, saying they damaged bilateral relations.

While diplomatic wranglings continued, French officials said a young African was killed by a Channel Tunnel train while trying to get to Britain, the latest of thousands of deaths this year of people desperate to start a new life in Europe.

Hungary has also installed spools of razor wire near a border crossing with Slovenia, which like Hungary is part of the EU’s Schengen zone of passport-free travel.

Advertisement

According to information of the Bulgarian Embassy to Belgrade, the admission of passenger and freight vehicles through the Batrovci-Bajakovo border checkpoint has been suspended since Thursday morning, the press office of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Thursday.

A Croatian policeman guards refugees at a Serbian cemetery on no-man’s-land at a border crossing. Croatia has shut all but one of its crossings with Serbia to block the refugee surge