Croatians direct refugees towards Hungary

Author: Györgyi BALLA Original title: A horvátok Magyarország felé irányítják a menekülteket
Publication: vs.hu, Photo: MTI – Zoltán BALOGH Date: 15:23 18/09/2015

Croatians direct refugees towards Hungary

“Hungary is three times closer” argued the Croatian Prime Minister during his press conference, when asked why they took refugees to the Hungarian-Croatian border. Hungary is building a fence; Slovenia accuses Croatia of disregarding the Schengen system.

Refugees are taken in buses from Croatia to the Hungarian border – reported Croatian media. One of the journalists of the Croatian RTL station tweeted, saying the first bus had arrived to the border.

The Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade requested information from Croatia about rumours that Croatian police had spread word that the Ministers of Interior of the two countries had agreed on the transportation of migrants to the Hungarian border. In its statement, the Ministry writes, “This is a lie”. They said that State Secretary Levente Magyar asked his Croatian counterpart, Josko Klisovic, for an explanation and firmly called on the Croatian police “to stop spreading this lie”.

In another twitter message, soldiers and police officers are mentioned as arriving at the border.

According to the news portal Bama.hu, buses have also arrived from the Hungarian border town of Siklós, which take refugees further on to register. A Syrian migrant told the portal that they would like to reach Germany legally and did not know they were being taken to Hungary. They thought they were being taken to Zagreb. Police did not body search them; they only wanted to know their citizenship.

Bama.hu reported earlier that twenty refugees tried to cross the border region through a sunflower field but Hungarian soldiers interceded them.

Those who want to continue into Slovenia are also taken in buses from Cepin (near Osijek) to Zagreb.

Earlier, Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic stated they would not register any more migrants [sic!], and would allow them to go wherever they wanted to.

“Our neighbours swiftly built an alliance against us and are pointing fingers at us, but we will not build a barbed wire fence like Hungary”, he said, and added, “We send a message to Europe that Croatia will not be a hot spot, that refugees can travel on from here, since they want to reach Western Europe. Croatia has proven it has compassion and treats refugees humanely, but we need to remind our neighbours that we are also smart and we know what our interests are, and what security risks there are”, he pointed out. During the press conference, the question was asked twice where the country would direct refugees if it did not want to become a hot spot. Milanovic alluded to the Hungarian border in both cases. When asked if they would direct them to Slovenia he simply answered, “I believe Hungary is three times closer”.

Slovenia has accused Croatia of violating the rules of the EU and of Schengen. During a press conference, Slovenian State Secretary Sefic Bostjan told reporters that additional police forces will be sent to the Croatian border to manage the increased refugee flow. “Croatia’s decision to stop registering migrants [sic!] is not in line with the rules of the EU and of Schengen”, the State Secretary stressed.

The largest Croatian opposition party, the centre-right Croatian Democratic Union, has also criticised the Prime Minister. Spokesperson Gordan Jadrankovic told Nova TV that Croatia was led by someone who was “misguided” and who could not manage the situation. Croatia is currently ruled by a Social Democratic government, while the conservative centre-right is in opposition.

In the meantime, a new fence is being built on the Croatian-Hungarian border. This was announced by Viktor Orban on Kossuth Radio’s public program “180 minutes”. The first 600 soldiers arrived overnight at the border, another five hundred are expected Friday, and 700 on Saturday. At the same time, police forces were also sent. According to the Prime Minister, the goal was to stop people from crossing the border illegally “with dry feet” in this border region. Péter Hoppál, State Secretary of the Ministry of Human Resources, announced in the southern Hungarian town of Pécs that the 41km-long temporary technical border fence along the Croatian-Hungarian border was being built at ten different points, with the first protective line expected to be ready in a day.

The police stopped 500 people on Thursday along the Hungarian-Croatian “green border”. According to the spokesperson of the county police headquarters, border police authorities were regularly reviewing the Croatian situation and were reacting accordingly.

In the town of Beli Manastir near the Hungarian border, all refugees continue their journey in taxis towards Osijek and Zagreb, reported the Croatian daily “Jutarnji List”. According to the article, €40 is the price to Osijek – 35 kms away, and €150 to Zagreb. Others take buses and trains from Beli Manastir to Hungary, writes vecernji.hr. There is total chaos at the train station, with migrants [sic!] boarding the trains through the windows.

The Serbian President told reporters in Belgrade that the crisis was created by the selfishness of EU Member States.  Tomislav Nikolic told B92 that Serbia would not be so selfish and it would stand by the principles of solidarity and tolerance towards refugees as long as possible, providing – among other things – medical services. He added that it was rather absurd that Serbia, which is not part of the EU, respected their rules, while those that were members disregarded them, and Brussels did not even punish them. Serbia demands an answer from the EU about the recent events.

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