HORGOS, Serbia — Hungary declared a state of crisis along its border with Serbia early on Tuesday, detaining at least 155 migrants and threatening to prosecute and imprison others trying to enter the country illegally from Serbia, while at least 22 migrants, including four children, drowned when their 65-foot wooden boat capsized in the Aegean Sea while they were trying to reach the Greek island of Kos.
A day after officials from European Union member countries failed to find a substantial collective approach to the crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Chancellor Werner Faymann of Austria called on fellow leaders to gather next week in Brussels for an urgent summit meeting on the situation.
Responding to criticism of Germany’s initial embrace of migrants, which some officials have said helped create an unmanageable situation, she said that finger-pointing was not helpful. “If we now start to have to excuse ourselves for the fact that we show a friendly face in an emergency, then that is not my country,” she said.
As of midnight, migrants who tried to breach the 109-mile fence made out of razor wire being constructed along Hungary’s border with Serbia faced the threat of arrest and criminal charges. Officials also threatened to imprison anyone damaging the barrier.
Zoltan Kovacs, a spokesman for Mr. Orban, said Hungary was setting up a “transit zone” along the border with Serbia. Inside that zone, he said, only those crossing from Serbia who have already applied for asylum would be allowed to enter. Everyone else would be turned away and not legally considered as having entered Hungary. The zone appeared to be a means to circumvent rules limiting how many people Hungary could deport each day to Serbia. Hungarian officials even said they were laying the groundwork for an additional fence, along the country’s eastern border with Romania.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Hungary said it had received 48 asylum applications in the transit zone, and had rejected 13 of them, with the remainder under review.
Hungary’s move prompted an alarmed response from Serbia. Its foreign minister, Ivica Dacic, called Hungary’s turning back of migrants to Serbia “unacceptable,” Reuters reported.
Speaking from the border village of Horgos, Serbia’s labor minister, Aleksandar Vulin, told the Serbian broadcaster B92 that the situation could “spiral out of control.” He called …Read More