• Austria's news in English

Refugee summit may mean 'EU decomposition'

The Local/AFP · 25 Oct 2015, 23:32

Published: 25 Oct 2015 23:32 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The mini summit, called by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, groups the heads of ten EU nations, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, plus the leaders of Albania, Serbia and Macedonia.

Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia on Saturday warned they would not accept being turned into a "buffer zone" for the tens of thousands of arrivals streaming into Europe.

"If Germany and Austria and other countries close their borders ... we will be ready to also close our borders at that very same moment," Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said.

Over past months, non-EU member Serbia has been swamped by migrants on their way from Greece and Macedonia to northern Europe.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, who is due in Brussels, said: "We will have difficult talks today, not pleasant for anybody, but I hope for a comprehensive solution."

EU member Hungary has already built a razor-wire fence on its border with Serbia, which forced the flood of migrants to seek a route through Croatia, causing a massive build-up.

Budapest then promptly began putting up a fence along its border with Croatia, with the migrants re-routing through tiny Slovenia.

Make-or-break talks

In an interview with the Kronen Zeitung daily, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said the summit would "either consolidate the unity of Europe or watch the slow decomposition of the EU."

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told the same daily that migrants were showing growing discontent and the police had to be "ready to react" against possible violence.

In an interview published on Sunday by the German newspaper Bild, Juncker urged countries to stop handing on migrants to neighbouring states in chaotic conditions.

Member states "must take care to uphold orderly procedures and conditions," he said.

"The European Commission expects everyone to obey the rules of the game if we don't want to put Schengen at risk," Juncker said, referring to the EU's border-free zone.

The EU is facing record arrivals with more than 60,000 people in the last week entering Slovenia, which has a population of just two million, and 48,000 entering Greece, which has a population of 11 million, according to official figures.

Dangerous winter

With winter looming, Amnesty International on Saturday warned of a humanitarian disaster if migrants are stranded at borders.

Slovenia is seeking help after becoming the main entry point into the Schengen zone when Hungary sealed its southern borders.

Visiting a registration camp in the border town of Brezice, Slovenian President Borut Pahor Pahor urged his peers to take extraordinary measures to deal with the crisis or Slovenia would take unilateral action "before it is too late."

Slovenia has asked Brussels for 140 million euros ($155 million), in addition to police back-up and logistical support.

It says that if no help emerges, it may have to build its own border barrier with Croatia.

Human flow

An unprecedented 670,000 people mainly fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan have flooded into Europe so far this year in the biggest movement of its kind since World War II.

Most transit via Turkey, Greece and the western Balkans, seeking new lives in Germany and other northern EU states, creating a huge strain on those countries.

Story continues below…

"The only goal of this long journey is to flee the disgusting war so we can start a safe life," Shaker Abara, 37, from the Syrian town of Homs, told AFP at the Berkasovo border area as he was waiting to cross from Serbia into Croatia in chilly temperatures early on Sunday.

Since last week's backlogs when thousands of refugees spent nights in the open air defying heavy rain and freezing temperatures, the situation has improved as the authorities of the two countries agreed to speed up the flow.

The 10 leaders from the 28-nation European Union who are invited to the mini summit are from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, The Netherlands, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden.

The meeting takes place amid a clear split in the EU over how to best handle the crisis.

Some see the crisis mainly as a border security issue while others believe it is a humanitarian challenge requiring the bloc to show solidarity and redistribute refugees among them all.

The summit will concentrate on immediate operational problems of how to deal with the human tide, according to the draft statement seen by AFP.

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
Vienna Comic Con promises to be 'bigger and more galactic'
Cosplay star Yaya Han. Copyright: Yaya Han/Bryan Humphrey

Comic Con returns to the Austrian capital on November 19th-20th at the Messe Wien.

Three refugees arrested on drugs charges
Cannabis plants. Photo: J. Patrick Bedell/Wikimedia

A gang of three Afghani drug dealers has been busted in Vienna.

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.

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