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Serbia Bans Croatian Cargo Vehicles, Traffic Halted
According to some estimates, while around 2,000 people daily enter Serbia, Serbian has capacities to accommodate only around 800.
“In their discriminatory character, they (the restrictions) can only be compared with measures taken in the past, during the fascist Independent Croatia“, the Serbian foreign ministry said in a statement, referring to the Nazi puppet state proclaimed in Croatia in 1941 and which sided with Berlin.
Croatian authorities deployed riot police to the Serbian border in a bid to stop migrants pushing into the country following the arrival of more than 6,000 people since Wednesday.
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday wrote a protest letter to European Union leaders, asking them to mediate and accusing Croatia of undermining the Stabilisation and Association Agreement Serbia signed with the European Union in 2008. But he conceded that “by itself, the decision we took today is not going to solve the refugee crisis“.
Relations began unraveling after Hungary closed its border to the migrants on September 15, redirecting the tide of humanity west through Croatia.
Yesterday, Hungarian police arrested a Syrian migrant “suspected of taking part in a riot on the border with Serbia, entering the country illegally and being a member of a group used as a front by Islamic extremists”.
Joanna Kakissis, reporting from the border region, says Serbia has closed its border to Croatians in retaliation.
Croatia has shut all but one of its crossings with Serbia to block the migrant surge, which reached almost 45,000 in a week and continues unabated.
The dispute is fast becoming their most serious in the two decades since Croatia fought Belgrade-backed Serb rebels in a 1991-95 war to forge its independence from socialist Yugoslavia.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees warned that the proposal on the table isn’t enough to stabilize the situation, because 477,906 people have already entered Europe by sea this year.
The influx has caused tensions between the Balkan rivals, with countries slamming each other with border closures and traffic blockades.
Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic urged Serbia Tuesday to restart directing migrants to Hungary and Romania to help ease the burden on his own country.
Croatia’s action has crippled the economy in Serbia, a conduit for cargo across Croatia to western and central Europe.
“We have nothing. No water, no food, no shelter”.
Vucic had called an emergency session of all security services, including the military, to discuss the crisis.
Milanovic, nevertheless, said he was confident Serbia was bluffing. “You see all the families living in the rain, with small children?” “They don’t want to stay here, but they live under bad conditions”.
A local taxi driver sympathized with the migrant’s plight. More than 20 years ago, Adrian Mustafa had walked from Albania to Greece, where he has been living ever since.