• Austria's news in English

EU mini-summit called for latest crisis

The Local/AFP · 21 Oct 2015, 21:34

Published: 21 Oct 2015 21:34 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The leaders of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia will meet on Sunday with their counterparts from non-EU states Macedonia and Serbia, the office of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

"In view of the unfolding emergency in the countries along the western Balkans migratory route, there is a need for much greater cooperation, more extensive consultation and immediate operational action," a statement said.

The continent has been struggling to find a unified response on how to tackle its biggest migration crisis since 1945.

More than 600,000 migrants and refugees, mainly fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have braved the dangerous journey to Europe so far this year, the UN said.

The goal for many travelling is the EU's biggest economy Germany, which expects to receive up to a million asylum requests this year.

Since Saturday, when Hungary sealed off its border with Croatia, more than 24,455 migrants have arrived in Slovenia, a nation of two million people.

In response, the Slovenian parliament amended a law which would allow soldiers to join border police in patrolling the 670-kilometre (416-mile) frontier with Croatia.

The amendment now means troops can detain people and hand them over to the police, as well as issue orders to civilians in the border area.

EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos is to visit Slovenia on Thursday to discuss its request for backup from police forces in other EU countries.

"The last 24 hours have been the toughest and most demanding since the start of the crisis," the Slovenian government said, warning it was "delusional" to expect small countries to succeed where larger ones had failed.

Tensions, fire

Around 11,000 people were still stuck in Slovenian registration centres on Wednesday morning, waiting to continue their journey.

And tensions briefly flared in southern Austria when some 1,000 migrants broke through a police barrier at the Spielfeld border crossing and started marching north, an AFP photographer said.

Police eventually convinced them to return to the checkpoint and wait for buses provided by the government to transport them toward Germany.

Vienna said more than 6,000 migrants had entered Austria since Tuesday night, with most only passing through.

Further south, long lines of several hundred migrants formed near Croatia's border with Slovenia on Wednesday morning, an AFP reporter said.

Progress was slow as police at the Berkasovo checkpoint were only allowing a trickle of people through.

Croatia sent extra security forces to the border to prevent migrants from crossing into fields and entering Slovenia through its green frontier.

Meanwhile, a fire broke out briefly on Wednesday morning at a refugee camp near another Croatian border crossing.

Around 25 tents suddenly caught fire at the Brezice camp, with black smoke billowing into the sky. Firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze, whose origin remained unclear.

Forced to spend hours in freezing temperatures and rain, people often resort to lighting makeshift fires to warm themselves.

Slovenia voiced sharped criticism over Zagreb's decision to open its borders on Monday night, letting thousands of people into Slovenia.

"I deplore the lack of communication and cooperation with the Croatian authorities," Prime Minister Miro Cerar said in an interview published in German daily Die Welt on Wednesday.

"Croatia doesn't respect border crossing agreements or the number of refugees supposed to enter Slovenia."

Struggling relocation

With at least 9,000 people landing on Europe's beaches every day, there appeared to be no end to the human tide surging into the bloc.

Story continues below…

The Netherlands on Wednesday said it received a record 8,400 asylum-seekers in September, the highest-ever number received in one month.

Last month, the EU approved plans to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from overstretched frontline states Italy and Greece with a compulsory quota system that was fiercely opposed by some eastern, more hardline members of the bloc.

The plan requires most of the 28 member states accept a share of those people over the course of two years.

So far, only 19 Eritrean asylum seekers have been relocated from Italy to Sweden although another 100 people are due to be flown to other cities in the coming days.

Out of the 23 member states that are legally required to admit a share of the human burden, only six have offered immediate places so far -- Austria, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Sweden, the source said.

Member states have also been slow to follow up with promised financial help -- out of the 2.8 billion euros ($3.2 billion) pledged at an emergency EU summit on September 23, only about 474 million euros has materialised.

In a related development, the EU's border agency said member states had provided less than half of the personnel it had requested to help out in overstretched locations in Greece and Italy.

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local/AFP (news.austria@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Hungarian woman crushed by snowcat piste machine
Snowcat machine. Photo: Melensdad/Wikimedia

A young Hungarian woman has died after being crushed by a snowcat piste machine on the Dobratsch mountain in Carinthia.

Austrian policeman sentenced over 'Heil Hitler' salute
Photo: Flickr

A policeman in Austria was sentenced on Thursday for shouting "Heil Hitler" at a driver during a traffic check at the Hungarian border in April.

Scary clown craze endangers crucial work of clown 'doctors'
Photo: Bojan Tavcar

Within the last couple weeks, disturbing events involving masked individuals has caught public attention in Austria.

Chimney sweep rescues lost mushroom picker
Photo: James Lindsey/Wikimedia

A 76-year-old Austrian man who went out mushroom picking almost froze to death after getting lost and spending the night in the forest.

Refugees sold into forced prostitution
File photo: UNHCR

Female refugees are being sold into forced prostitution in Austria, a police investigation into human trafficking has found.

Driverless bus takes a spin around Salzburg's old town
The Arma driverless shuttle bus. Photo: Navya

A driverless minibus has made a test journey in the city of Salzburg.

No jail time for asylum seeker who dumped baby in road
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A man who grabbed his own child and dumped her in the middle of a busy road has been given a nine-month suspended sentence.

Freedom Party leader may face hate speech charges
Heinz-Christian Strache. Photo: Facebook/Personal

The leader of Austria’s Freedom Party may face charges of “hate speech” for posts made by other users on his Facebook page.

The Local List
Five Austrian films we promise won't make you depressed
Still from the comedy Was hat uns bloß so ruiniert.

With the Viennale film festival opening on Thursday, we thought it’s time to take a look at the best of Austrian cinema.

Clown scares passengers at Vienna’s Praterstern station
Generic photo: Graeme Maclean/Flick

The first “scary clown” has been spotted in Vienna - at the Praterstern train and metro station which is a known hotspot for crime and addicts.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available