Hungary closes border with Croatia to block refugees

Hungary decides to close border with Croatia from midnight on Friday to stop refugee influx

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Hungary says will close its border with Croatia from midnight on October 16, 2015

Updated Oct 17, 2015

Hungary has closed its southern border with Croatia at midnight local time (2200 GMT) on Friday to stop the influx of thousands of refugees arriving in the country every day.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government promised to protect its own borders and the European Union’s external frontiers from the flow of hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa. The refugees have come through the  Balkans on their way to Germany.

Orban had said that the influx of the refugees into Europe threatens and undermines Europe’s Christian roots and that all European governments should control their borders before they decide how many refugees should be allowed. He is fiercely opposed to immigration from outside the EU and vows to protect Hungary's borders and the country’s "Christian values."

Hungary erected a razor wire to block the path of the refugees through its southern border with Croatia after it built a similar fence on the Serbian border.

After the closure of Hungary's border with Croatia the refugees may attempt to travel through Slovenia or be stranded in Croatia, where the weather is getting colder.

Szijjarto said on Friday that he expected the flow of refugees to come to a trickle on the border with Croatia as the same had occured on the Serbian border.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto attends an interview with Reuters in Budapest, Hungary on October 15, 2015 (Reuters)

In recent weeks, between 5,000 to 8,000 refugees have crossed the Croatian border each day and police have transferred them by ship to the Austrian border.

Szijjarto said that Hungary had to protect the EU’s external frontiers and the passport-free Schengen zone.

"Therefore, the national security cabinet decided that from midnight ... Hungary will fully enforce the Schengen rules on the border with Croatia," he told reporters.

Szijjarto said Hungary had informed Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Slovakia, Austria and Germany about the closure of the border, adding that crossing would only be possible through official border stations and refugees could submit asylum requests at two transit zones to be set up on the border with Croatia.

Early on Friday refugees were still coming through the Croatian border. Almost 1,500-2,000 people arrived at the Croatian side of the border crossing at Botovo before midday before starting to walk to the Hungarian border village of Zakany with a police escort.

According to Reuters, Croatia had agreed to send the stranded refugees to Slovenia, from which they are expected to make their way to Austria and Germany.  

Slovenia is due to convene its national security council on Saturday to prepare a plan to deal with the refugee crisis in the event of Germany also closing its border, Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec told reporters.

"But so far there are no indications or information that Germany is to change its policy," Erjavec added.

Refugees walk to the border with Hungary after arriving by train at Botovo, Croatia on October 16, 2015 (Reuters)


TRTWorld and agencies