Wednesday

25th Apr 2018

Balkan bottleneck after Slovenia puts cap on migrants

  • Hungary has erected a fence along its Serbian border, and now along its Croatian frontier, protecting "christian Europe" (Photo: Freedom House)

Thousands of refugees and migrants have been stranded in Croatia and Serbia as Slovenia limits the number it can accept daily after Hungary sealed off its border with Croatia early Saturday.

Slovenia accepted 2,100 people on Sunday (18 October), the Slovenian news agency reported, and did not accept a second train from Croatia carrying some 2,000 people.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Ljubljana announced the day before that it would only allow in 2,500 people daily, even though Croatia had asked it to accept 5,000 migrants.

This has led to a build-up of people at the Serbian-Croatian border where thousands of people had to wait on buses for hours in the wintery cold.

Scuffles have reportedly broken out between desperate refugees trying to make it into Croatia and overstretched police officers.

Around 5,000 migrants spent a cold night in a transit camp in Opatovac, eastern Croatia.

More than 6,000 people reached Croatia on Saturday, and thousands continued to arrive from Serbia, after crossing Macedonia and Greece.

Some 3,000 migrants entered Slovenia from Croatia on Saturday, around the same number who have arrived in Slovenia in the entire past month.

The country is equipped to house up to 8,000 people, according to Reuters.

Slovenia's interior state secretary Bostjan Sefic, explaining the cap on the number of people, told press on Sunday that neighbouring Austria only accepts 1,500 refugees and migrants per day, therefore Slovenia had to limit the number of people it can allow in.

"If we would accept 5,000 migrants per day that would mean 35,000 would be in Slovenia in 10 days," he was quoted by AP, adding: "That would be unacceptable."

Slovenia and Croatia both indicated that they will keep the corridor open as long as Austria and Germany, the preferred destination for refugees and migrants, keep their doors open.

"Slovenia will not close its border unless Germany closes its border, in that case Croatia will have to do the same," Croatian foreign minister Vesna Pusic said on Saturday.

Slovenia's army was also called in to help police deal with thousands of refugees and migrants.

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar said on Saturday, however, that his country is not in a state of emergency.

Slovenia, with a population of 2 million, became the latest hotspot on the Balkan route for people seeking international protection, after Hungary sealed off its border with Croatia on early Saturday.

The right-wing government in Budapest said it decided on the border closure after EU leaders failed to agree on a common effort to protect the EU's external border in Greece. Hungary says it is also defending Christian Europe and its values from mainly Muslim migrants.

Hungary already closed its green border with Serbia, another transit route for refugees and migrants, a month ago.

Until now, some 5,000 to 8,000 people bound for Austria and Germany had been allowed to cross Hungary every day, without registration.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said the new route through Slovenia was prolonging the ordeal for thousands of people.

"The decision by Hungary to close its border has certainly added to the suffering and misery and the length of the journey for these desperate people," said UNHCR regional spokesman Babar Baloch.

More than 615,000 people, most of them Syrians, have reached Europe so far this year, compared to just over 200,000 for the whole of 2014.

More than 475,000 people made it to Greece from Turkey in 2015.

Hungary to seal border with Croatia

Hungary will seal its borders with Croatia by midnight, with Zagreb planning to send migrants and refugees to Slovenia.

Croatia-Serbia border tensions escalate

Serbia has banned imports from Croatia after Croatia closed its border to Serbian cargo traffic, in escalating tension over the migrant influx.

Opinion

Calling time on European-Turkish strategic relations

With an Erdogan-Putin summit on Tuesday, joined by Iran on Wednesday, it is time for Europe to face facts - Turkey's ties with the West are no longer strategic. When Europe goes hither, Turkey deliberately goes thither.

EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints

EU policy and law makers are ironing out final details of a legislative reform on collecting the fingerprints of asylum seekers and refugees, known as Eurodac. The latest plan includes possibly using coercion against minors, which one MEP calls "violence".

News in Brief

  1. UN expects over $4bn in pledges for Syria
  2. Commission wants more public data made available for reuse
  3. Study: Brexit will hit all European farmers
  4. European media face rise in 'verbal violence' from politicians
  5. Greenland PM to keep power despite poll slump
  6. Commissioner optimistic on FYROM name solution
  7. Italian court keeps NGO migrant rescue boat docked
  8. German Jews warned not to wear skullcap in public

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Sustainable Energy Week 2018"Lead the Clean Energy Transition"- Register and Join Us in Brussels from 5 to 7 May
  2. EU Green Week 2018Green Cities for a Greener Future. Join the Debate in Brussels from 22 to 24 May
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  4. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  5. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  6. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  8. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  9. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  10. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  11. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  12. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip

Latest News

  1. Whistleblowers could be enforcers of rule of law in Europe
  2. EU shelves Macron idea for 'European Darpa'
  3. Don't play EU 'games' with military HQs, Italian admiral says
  4. EU had a plan for Jordan - now it's time to make it work
  5. Time for EU to take charge of global health research agenda
  6. EU in race to set global Artificial Intelligence ethics standards
  7. Juncker delays air quality action due to busy agenda
  8. Spain makes bid for EU naval HQ