Tags: EU | Europe | Migrants | The Latest

The Latest: EU Official Visits Migrant Camp in Serbia

Friday, 25 September 2015 05:24 AM EDT

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The latest developments as European governments struggle to cope with the huge number of people moving across Europe. All times local:

11:15 a.m.

An EU official is touring a migrant camp near Serbia's border with Croatia amid boiling tensions between the two Balkan rivals struggling with the influx of tens of thousands of people moving toward Western Europe.

The Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn arrived to the border zone Friday together with Serbia's Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

Ahead of his visit, Hahn has praised "Serbia's competent and resilient management of the refugee crisis." He said "the EU stands by Serbia in this pan-European crisis which can be solved only with a common approach."

Croatia has said it was overwhelmed and has accused Serbia of sending the migrants in its direction. The two countries have slammed each other with border closures and traffic blockades.

11:05 a.m.

Former Czech President Vaclav Klaus, a renowned Euro-skeptic, says a nationwide referendum or early election should be called over a European Union decision to redistribute 120,000 asylum-seekers in member states.

The decision was approved by EU ministers this week despite opposition from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.

Slovakia is planning to challenge that but the Czech government said it would respect it.

Klaus says the government has no mandate for that because it is "an extraordinary situation that threatens the sovereignty of our country."

He told Czech public television late Thursday that he is starting consultations with major parties as well other political groups over the issue.

Earlier this month, Klaus launched a petition which said mass immigration is a fundamental threat to Europe and called on the government to reject the migrant quotas.

10:55 a.m.

Asylum-seekers arriving in Finland have been met by protesters firing fireworks and sounding loud horns, and at least one person dressed in a Ku Klux Klan-like white robe and pointed hat.

Finnish broadcasters showed how the bus with the new arrivals was escorted by police as it approached a refugee center north of Helsinki early Friday.

State broadcaster YLE said the roughly 40 asylum-seekers were met by up to 40 protesters. It was unclear if any arrests were made.

Some 500 people formed a symbolic human wall Saturday in the northern Finland border town of Tornio to protest against the arrival of migrants from Sweden. No incidents were reported.

Up to 30,000 asylum-seekers are expected in the Nordic country this year, compared to 3,651 last year.

10:40 a.m.

Croatian police say some 55,000 migrants have crossed into the country from Serbia since last Wednesday when the first groups started arriving.

Police say the numbers include people who came in by early hours on Friday, but that many more were expected to arrive overnight. Police say 8,500 people crossed into Croatia in one day on Thursday.

The UN estimates that 80 percent of the people entering Europe through the Balkans are fleeing conflict in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. The other 20 percent are from places including Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burundi and Sub-Saharan African.

They turned to Croatia after Hungary on Sept. 15 used tear gas and water cannons to drive them away from its border with Serbia. Croatia has been shipping the migrants to its borders with Hungary and Slovenia.

The migration crisis has fueled tensions in the Balkans, with rival countries Serbia and Croatia slamming each other with border closures and traffic blockades.

10:10 a.m.

Hungary's government spokesman says the fence being built on the border with Croatia to stop migrants from entering is nearly finished.

Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said Friday on state radio that Hungary doesn't want to close the border, but wants "to protect the border of the European Union." He said the possibility of legal entry would be left open.

Hungary has also installed spools of razor wire near a border crossing with Slovenia, which like Hungary is part of the EU's Schengen zone of passport-free travel.

Kovacs said they are meant to "block direct detours" by migrants who may attempt to circumvent the fences on the Serbian and Croatian borders to reach Germany and other countries in Western Europe.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban will be in Vienna on Friday meeting with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and other officials to discuss the migration crisis.

Police said 8,104 migrants entered Hungary on Thursday, nearly all crossing from Croatia.

© Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The latest developments as European governments struggle to cope with the huge number of people moving across Europe. All times local:11:15 a.m.An EU official is touring a migrant camp near Serbia's border with Croatia amid boiling tensions between the two Balkan rivals...
EU,Europe,Migrants,The Latest
Friday, 25 September 2015 05:24 AM
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