“Mind the closing borders, please!”

Author: Szabolcs PANYI Original title: Kérjük, vigyázzanak, a határok záródnak!
Publication: index.hu , Photo:MTI-Balázs MOHAI Date: 11:00 14/09/2015

“Mind the closing borders, please!” 

Germany is fed up with the huge flow of refugees and has introduced border controls on the Bavarian-Austrian border. The Austrian foreign minister said they would follow the German example and close their border to Hungary. First, chancellor Faymann rejected the idea and denied the contradictory rumours; however, later his Interior Minister announced the tightening of the borders. Meanwhile, the fence on the Hungarian-Serbian border is almost ready ( now completed – trans.), and defence minister Simicskó is doing his best. The police forces in the Southern counties of Hungary have been notified that there is a possibility that Serbia may try to push tens of thousands of refugees across the border on Monday. If today’s chaos is so enormous, what will happen tomorrow when the new criminal laws enters into force? We will try explain what is happening now.

Germany: border control

  • On Sunday afternoon, German and Austrian media rumours were confirmed after a cabinet meeting reported that Germany is temporarily introducing border controls at its border to Austria – controls will only be along this border. They instantly sent 21 frontline police divisions with vehicles and helicopters.
  • According to German Interior Minister Thomas de Maziere, the aim is to restrict the flow of refugees and to settle the reception of refugees. On Saturday, 12,000 refugees arrived to Munich and the city was overloaded.
  • Not at all surprisingly, the border closure was initiated by a party critical of Merkel’s refugee policy, the Christian Social Union in Bavaria (CSU). Viktor Orban has expressed his solidarity: “We understand that this step was necessary in order to preserve the fundamental values of Europe.” According to the Bavarian Prime Minister, Horst Seehofer, Hungary is important in solving the refugee crisis; and border countries of the Schengen area should be helped instead of being demonized. The Bavarian Interior Minister claimed that most of the refugees are not real refugees.
  • According to the Schengen Agreement, it is possible to patrol the borders in case of a severe threat and intimidation to public order and internal security. This may be limited to 30 days, or until the threat ceases.
  • Germany’s willingness to help should not be exploited – says the German home secretary, according to whom Dublin III should still be followed.

Austria: they denied it, but the border closure is coming

  • As a response to Germany’s actions, the cabinet of chancellor Faymann held an emergency meeting in Vienna, after which the social democrat chancellor announced that they will not introduce border control on the Austrian-Hungarian border. Faymann was immediately criticised by the oppositional FPÖ and they demanded the tightening of the border.
  • Contradicting the announcement of the chancellor, the populist Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz called for the closing of the Hungarian border, during the evening on Austrian television. He claims that Austria should act in accordance with Germany, since Austria is the “most attractive country” before reaching Germany and the German decision has triggered an emergency.
  • At least 10 thousand refugees are stuck in Austria, where only 60-90 applications for asylum were registered in recent days. Everybody wants to travel further; hundreds of people spent their nights at the Westbahnhof in Vienna. About a quarter of the 3,900 places in the refugee camps are still free.
  • The rail transport between Austria and Germany was shut down on Sunday at 17 o’clock and restarted on Monday morning; however the authorities are checking passengers’ papers. In the evening, Kurz commented that with the shutdown of rail transport they “went back to the middle ages”.
  • On Monday morning, the M1 motorway was closed down at the Hegyeshalom-Nickelsdorf crossing because refugees were walking on the highway. 1,500 refugees were waiting for buses at the Nickelsdorf collection point, while another 3,000 refugees waited for the same thing at Heiligenkreuz, South-Burgenland, near Szentgotthárd. In the meantime 500 additional refugees arrived every hour by bus.
  • On Monday, Faymann announced that the deployment of 2,200 soldiers to help the police. Their main task is to provide humanitarian aid, but they are also helping with border controls on the Austrian-Hungarian border. At the same time, they will not close the borders – at least, at the time, the chancellor insisted they would not.
  • Shortly afterwards, his Interior Minister announced that – similarly to the Germans – they will also introduce border controls.

Serbian border: fence ready, the border will close

  • Immediately before the closure of the Hungarian border the flow of refugees reached its height: according to the latest police data, 5,809 refugees crossed the border from Serbia on Sunday. This sets a new record. During the weekend, 13,162 persons were arrested by the police for illegal border-crossing.
  • Legislation that will speed up the deportation of the refugees to Serbia will come into effect starting Tuesday, this is one of the reasons why the refugees are in such a hurry at the moment. Three new regulations are being introduced: illegal crossing of the border, damaging the border, and hampering the construction of border controls. The penalty for damaging would be a minimum of one year in prison, but climbing over or through the fence could result in as many as three years. A new legal category is also being introduced: a state of emergency due to mass migration.
  • In contrast with previous plans, a transit zone will not be created. The railroad by Roszke, where most of the refugees arrive now will be closed off using an old railway car adapted for the purpose, a spy photo of which may be seen here. What will happen afterwards is impossible to predict, most likely thousands will remain stuck on the Serbian side.
  • According to our sources, judges are being coordinated in main parts of the country to preside over the cases of those who do get through the border illegally. These cases, according to the sources, will be heard with expedited procedures in new courts set up in containers. The cases would be adjudicated out of turn in Szeged, but neither the special procedural rules for minor-age defendants nor the translation of trial documents would be mandatory in these proceedings.
  • Building the southern border fence was chaotic at first, and by this we do not just mean the dismissal of Csaba Hende. Soldiers were sent here in a disorganized manner, they faced problems with the materials provided and struggled to receive food supplies and adequate housing, as we previously reported. Of the 5000 soldiers who may actually be involved in military operations, 4300 are at work building the fence. During the night, they began to close the rails entering the country near Roszke using a gate.
  • There are interruptons to the provisions not only of the soldiers but of the police as well, many of whom are without food, drink or adequate accommodations. To help them, a convoy from a newly formed Facebook group ”Cop-Providers” has gone to the border bringing food and drink.
  • The collection points in Roszke experienced long gaps in the transportation of refugees last night; in the middle of the night, however, everybody was woken up and directed to get board the buses. By dawn, the collection point was empty for a short period of time. Those who arrived in the morning were given seats on a bus immediately– the police did not allow anyone to rest or to pitch a tent.
  • On Sunday, police forces in six counties were put on high alert. This means that the police must be ready to deploy within two hours of being called up. According to sources, the Hungarian authorities are in possesion of information that the Serbian police might try to ”push through” any remaining refugees to Hungary, using buses to transport them to the border in order to speed up this operation.
  • The expectation in police circles is that Monday might break all records: as many as 25 to 30,000 refugees might cross the border.



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