That’s it: Borders set to close again

Author:  Attila Tóth-Szenesi Original title:  Ennyi volt, közeleg az újabb határzár
Publication: Date: 00:55 07/09/2015

That’s it: Borders set to close again

It started off as a quiet Sunday. Refugees were not leaving for the border in a chaotic manner, rather they bought their tickets at Keleti railway station to the Hungarian border town of Hegyeshalom, as still no trains were permitted to cross the border. They got on the train, they walked across the border, and then they boarded buses and trains provided by Austrian authorities.

The vast majority of the refugees allowed to cross the borders since Saturday morning, about 17 000 people, have already reached Germany.

But by Sunday afternoon, the relative calm was over, and the chaos of previous weeks is expected to return. Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann announced that step-by-step, they would stop all special measures. This means that borders would soon be closed for the masses of unregistered refugees.

In the meantime, hundreds of Austrians had already decided that they were coming to Budapest on that Sunday to take the refugees by car – well before anything was known about the surprise provision of buses by the Hungarian government through Friday night to Saturday. The opening of the Austrian-Hungarian border on the Friday night and through Saturday and the easy transportation by train, indicated that there was no much reason for the convoy on the Sunday. But they still came, and dozens of cars left Austria and collected refugees mainly at Keleti railway station and at II. János Pál pápa tér.

Although the police consider this action human trafficking, no one got in trouble, and all cars returned to Austria on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the number of people crossing the Serbian–Hungarian border was much higher than the 800 on Saturday: 1459 people had stepped on Hungarian land by 5 pm, but the final number was expected to be over 2000.

An article featuring Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann, which is interesting from a Hungarian point of view, was published in the newspaper Österreich. According to him, Angela Merkel and himself had to come up with an emergency solution to the immediate crisis, while Viktor Orbán claimed that there were a maximum of 4,000 refugees who should be let out of Hungary regardless of regulations. Faymann shared his opinion on the Hungarian attitude to the refugee crisis: pictures say more than words, and the wire fence is no solution.

Orbán told the Austrian TV channel ORF on Sunday evening that Austria and Germany should state that they would not accept any more refugees, otherwise millions more would set off for Europe.

To put this in context, the European Commission has suggested that EU countries should accept 54,000 refugees from Hungary. Furthermore, the draft of the regulation proposes distributing people between member states according to a quota system. The contingency plan expects the resettling of 50,400 refugees from Greece, and 15,600 from Italy. The European Commission will make the official decision about the plan concerning the distribution of the total of 120,000 refugees among member countries next Wednesday. Pope Francis called on all European parishes to accept a refugee family each. The Italian and the Czech Catholic churches have already joined the initiative.


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