By Marton Dunai and Krisztina Than
16 October 2015
ZAKANY, Hungarian-Croatian border (Reuters) – Hungary will seal off its border with Croatia from midnight (2200 GMT) on Friday to stem the flow of thousands of migrants arriving daily, Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto announced after a meeting of the national security cabinet.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing government has pledged to protect Hungarian borders and the European Union's external frontiers from the influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants who, fleeing war or poverty, have come via the Balkans, and most of whom want to go to Germany. Orban is a fierce opponent of immigration and vowed to protect Hungary, and what he called its Christian values.
Hungary has built a steel fence to shut down migrants' route over its southern border with Croatia, similarly to the barrier erected on the Serbian border earlier.
After the border with Croatia is sealed, migrants will turn towards tiny Slovenia or could be stranded in Croatia, where the weather is getting colder and authorities are already struggling with the mass influx.
Around 5,000 to 8,000 migrants crossed the Croatian border each day in recent weeks and were shipped in an organised way by police to the Austrian border. This will all come to a halt now.
Szijjarto said the EU leaders' meeting in Brussels failed to decide on a common force to protect Greece's borders. It was clear that Hungary had to protect the external frontiers of the EU's passport-free Schengen zone.
"Therefore, the national security cabinet decided that from midnight … Hungary will fully enforce the Schengen rules on the border with Croatia," he told reporters. [more]