LONDON, United Kingdom – A new front in the battle to keep Europe from being swamped by immigrants has opened in Croatia according to eye witness reports. Immigrants from the Muslim world had been travelling from Serbia to Hungary in order to get to richer Northern European countries until the Hungarians tightened up their border patrols.
Reporters from the Reuters news agency said they had seen hundreds of migrants crossing fields long the border between the two former Yugoslav republics of Croatia and Serbia. The crossing is significant because Croatia is a member of the European Union (EU), so entering it brings the migrants one step closer to countries like Germany.
According to the reporters: “They arrived by bus from the southern Serbian town of Presevo, rerouted late on Tuesday to the Croatian border after Hungary sealed its own frontier with Serbia to the wave of migrants streaming north across the Balkan peninsula en route to western Europe.”
Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said they would be allowed passage through Croatia. He told Parliament: "Croatia is entirely ready to receive or direct those people where they want to go, which is obviously Germany or Scandinavian countries… They will be able to pass through Croatia and we will help, we're getting ready for that possibility."
Police in Croatia confirmed the migrants had crossed, saying an unspecified number had been rounded up and would be registered and transported to reception centers near the capital, Zagreb. From there, it is just 30 km Slovenia, which is part of the EU's border-free zone created by the Schengen Agreement.
Since the start of the crisis a number of countries have started to ignore the terms of the agreement, and have put up border security. This prompted the EU to hold an emergency summit in Brussels yesterday.
Speaking from the meeting UKIP Deputy Leader Paul Nuttall said: "They are using EU fudge to paper over the cracks of a Schengen wall which is falling apart.”
He continued: “In the last two days, Germany, Poland, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have closed their borders to a migrant wave. The Schengen Agreement is now barely worth the paper it is written on."
For months Hungary has been the main crossing point into the Schengen area, but in recent days it has closed its border with Serbia to immigrants. The country has also erected a fence along the full length of the border, some 110 miles.
Hungarian political leaders have expressed serious concerns about how Europe might change if the EU continues to let people in. Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, said there was a risk of the “Christian welfare state” being deluged with immigrants.
Orban also warned: "For us today, what is at stake is Europe, the lifestyle of European citizens, European values, the survival or disappearance of European nations, and more precisely formulated, their transformation beyond recognition
“Today, the question is not merely in what kind of a Europe we would like to live, but whether everything we understand as Europe will exist at all