EU talks on Balkans migrant crisis

Migrant crisis: Balkan leaders meet amid Juncker warnings

  • 25 October 2015
  • From the section Europe
Media captionThe BBC’s John Sweeney gives a tour of a refugee crossing point on the Serbia-Croatia border

Leaders from Central Europe and the Balkans are due to hold an emergency summit to discuss the migrant crisis.

A draft statement leaked ahead of the meeting calls on countries to stop waving through migrants without the agreement of their neighbours.

Bottlenecks have formed, leaving thousands out in the cold at night.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who called the meeting, told German newspaper Bild: “Every day counts.”

If no agreement is reached, he added, “we will soon see families in cold rivers in the Balkans perish miserably”.

Leaders from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia, are taking part in the summit.

The draft statement calls for the “gradual and controlled” movement of people through the migration route.

It also proposes to bolster EU patrols at Greece’s borders and to send 400 extra guards to Slovenia.

Balkan bottlenecks

Hungary announced it was closing its borders with Serbia and Croatia last weekend.

As a result, Slovenia saw 58,000 arrivals in the week leading up to Saturday, and many people are waiting in wet and cold conditions.

The Slovenian government has accused Croatia of deliberately dumping thousands of migrants on the border.

Croatia says it has no choice because Slovenia is allowing far less into the country than it should be.

Fears of Germany and Austria closing their own borders have led Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia to threaten to do so.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said the three countries would not “become buffer zones”.

Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor said on his Facebook page, Mr Pahor said the success of Sunday’s summit would be measured partly on whether stricter controls are implemented to stop migrants travelling from Turkey to Greece.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said such controls were the only solution. “Everything else is a waste of time,” he said.

The International Organization for Migration said that more than 9,000 migrants arrived in Greece every day last week – the highest rate so far this year.

Most of the migrants – including many refugees from the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – want to reach Germany to claim asylum.

Germany says it expects to take in 800,000 asylum seekers this year.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The rate of people arriving on to Greek islands is at its highest this year

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Night-time temperatures on the Croatia-Slovenia border dropped to close to freezing point over the weekend

Image copyright AP
Image caption But thousands have still been trying to reach Western Europe

BBC News – World