Croatia says refugees are allowed to pass through Europe

Croatia will allow refugees in Serbia to pass through western Europe as Hungary seals its southern border with razor-wire fence

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A group of refugees walk on the Serbian side of the border near Sid, Croatia on September 16, 2015

Updated Sep 17, 2015

Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said on Wednesday, they will allow the refugees to pass through and continue their journey to western Europe.

"Croatia is entirely ready to receive or direct those people where they want to go, which is obviously Germany or Scandinavian countries," Milanovic told parliament.

"They will be able to pass through Croatia and we will help, we're getting ready for that possibility," he said.

He also confirmed that nearly 150 refugees had entered from Serbia overnight.

Refugees in Serbia headed for border with the European Union member Croatia on Wednesday, after Hungary locked down its frontier with Serbia. Most of them left south Serbian city of Presevo by busses and at least 100 refugees started to walk toward Croatia, heading for the border town of Sid, Serbian media reported.

The buses would normally go to Serbia’s border with Hungary, but Hungary’s government launched a crackdown on Tuesday that sealed off the frontier to refugees with a fence.

The refugees hoping to travel through Hungary before new restrictions began have been blocked by 3.5m-high fence to enter the country. Hungary erected a razor-wire fence along its border with Serbia to stop influx of refugees through Balkan countries. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced plans for another barrier on the frontier with Romania.

“Why are they doing this?” asked an Afgan woman holding her child on the Serbian side of the fence as Hungarian police were watching some 300 people from the other side.

“It was really bad last night” said a 17-year-old Afghan boy who arrived an hour after the border was closed.

"It was cold, particularly for families with little babies," he told AFP.

The Hungarian frontier with Serbia has been the main land route for refugees and asylum seekers to reach the European Union's border-free Schengen zone. Most of the refugees headed for Croatia may now hope to enter Croatia and then Slovenia to reach Austria and Germany.

Croatian Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic said on Tuesday that Zagrep had “emergency plan in the case of an influx of thousands of refugees”, but he did not give any detail about the plan.

"The government will quickly activate that emergency plan if it's needed," Ostojic said.

Aleksandar Vulin, the Balkan state’s minister for refugees, said Hungary must reopen its border “at least for women and children”.

Hungarian police revealed on Tuesday that they detained 9,380 refugees, the highest daily figure so far this year, as the country implements new and tougher laws to prevent the piling of refugees.

Amnesty International. The Council of Europe said it was “concerned” about the new legislation and declared that he was waiting for an explanation from Orban.

Amnesty International charged that "meeting those fleeing conflict and persecution with razor wire, troops and draconian new laws, Hungary is showing the ugly face of Europe's shambolic response to the growing refugee crisis".

Romania also criticised the Hungary’s new plan for putting up a fence along its border as “out of step with the spirit of Europe”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the weekly cabinet meeting at the in Berlin, Germany on September 16, 2015

Merkel calls for EU summit on refugee crisis

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for a special EU refugee summit next week to end the refugee crisis.

“Time is running out,” Merkel warned.

In Berlin, Merkel and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann declared that European solidarity was needed to solve the refugee crisis.

“We can manage this,” Merkel insisted referring to Berlin’s decision last Sunday about border controls after more than 60,000 refugees arrived in Germany so far this month.

The European Union officials declared that the meeting would be held with interior ministers on Sept.22.

Meanwhile, Syrian leader Bashar al Assad said the refugee crisis could only be solved by looking at the root of the problem, terrorism. He said that if Europe wants to solve the crisis, they should stop supporting “terrorists”.

Assad told Russian media, "The issue is not if Europe accepts refugees or not, the issue is that it is necessary to eliminate the cause of this problem. If Europeans are worried about the refugees, they should stop supporting terrorists.”

"This is our opinion on this problem. This is the substance of the refugees issue."

TRTWorld and agencies