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Hungary to seal Croatian border at midnight

Crops

Goričan/Letenye border crossing, adjacent to the Zrinski Bridge on the M7. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Hungary is closing its entire “green border” with Croatia, leaving road border crossings open and creating two transit zones where refugees can make asylum requests, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said today at a press conference. The move could mean a serious effort to stop the flow of thousands of refugees who pass through Hungary every day on the way to Austria.

Goričan/Letenye border crossing, adjacent to the Zrinski Bridge on the M7. (Photo: Wikipedia)

While he explained that the “green border”, or the wild and undeveloped part of the border, would be closed, Szijjártó did not say what would happen to the busloads of refugees that have been sent to the border from Croatia every day. The foreign minister did not answer questions, but it would appear that the change means Hungary will seek to stem the free flow of refugees passing through this country on their way west.

“Hungary decided to take a unilateral step, and as of midnight tonight it is closing its green border with Croatia, in order to ensure the protection of Schengen borders,” the minister said, following a meeting of the national security cabinet convened by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán this afternoon.

Since Hungary closed the entire Serbian border on September 15, thousands of refugees have been arriving to Hungary from Croatia on a daily basis, with Croatian authorities transporting them to the border by buses and trains. Hungarian authorities have been transporting these refugees to Hegyeshalom, close the Austrian border and the refugees have reportedly been leaving this country and crossing into Austria.

In the past, when Hungary threatened to stop the flow of refugees from Croatia, Croatian authorities said they would let the refugees cross the green border. The new fence is apparently meant to allow Hungary to completely control the Croatian border, the same way it controls the border with Serbia. On the Serbian border, only a few refugees are allowed into the country every day, and most are returned to Serbia or placed in jails in Hungary.

Razor coils and a fence have been erected on the Croatian border, and all the technical conditions are in place for the closure of the border, the minister said. Szijjarto added that personnel are also in place, so “there are no obstacles for Hungary to close the border”.

According to Szijjarto, the Council of Europe meeting yesterday, which Orbán attended, did not make a decision that would ensure the protection of Schengen borders through a joint effort by the union. He added that, at the summit yesterday, it was a clear expectation that EU members should protect their borders. Greece does not want to, or cannot, meet these requirements, but Hungary can, and it will do so, Szijjarto said.

Szijjarto emphasized that the border closure applies only to the green border, and that regular road border crossings will keep operating.

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