There was serious trouble at the border between Serbia and Hungary last September during the height of the migration crisis. Back then Hungary instituted border controls and started building a fence to try to stem the flood that was crossing from Serbia on the way to Austria and Germany. In one of the worst incidents, a mob of migrants, egged on by a man with a megaphone, reacted violently and stormed the new fence. The Hungarian police responded with tear gas and water cannons directed at the rioters, even when they were on the Serbian side of the border.
Beginning last Wednesday there was a reprise of last year’s ructions. Rioting immigrants broke down part of the fence at the Röszke border crossing, and Hungarian police responded once again with water cannons, without being too finicky about whether the water crossed over into Serbian territory.
It’s important to remember the political context of these events: the current Serbian government is pro-EU, and eager to complete the procedures necessary for it to join the bloc. Serbian politicians are anxious to curry favor with Brussels, and thus follow the EU party line on “refugees”. Hungary, on the other hand, staunchly resists the diktats from Brussels concerning migrants. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is determined to maintain his country’s national sovereignty. This difference of opinion on immigration is currently a source of tension between Serbia and Hungary.
Many thanks to CrossWare for translating this article from CivilHir. Note: TEK is the Hungarian Anti-Terrorist Commando (SWAT) force:
The migrants broke through; TEK captured an identified terrorist
2016. august 12., Friday
Video of yesterday’s horror summed up…
On Wednesday afternoon a group of migrants from the Serbian side damaged the fence at the border crossing and confronted the Hungarian police protecting the borders.
Szijjártó: Hungarian police were brutally attacked
Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Szijjártó provided information that at the Röszke border crossing the Hungarian police were brutally attacked from Serbian territory — reacting to the comments of German Defense Minister and Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.
Peter Szijjártó phrased it the following way: … after an attack of aggressive migrant group had left 14 Hungarian police officer injured. Naturally the officers in question protected themselves and protected Hungarian territory. If the Serbian police had stopped the attack against the Hungarian officers, most of the violence could have been avoided — as explained to journalists.
German Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen Wednesday told CNN news: it is unacceptable behavior by the Hungarian authorities against the migrants and refugees at the Hungarian-Serbian border.
Serbian PM: Hungary “not” treating the refugees in a “European way”
Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday blamed Hungary for being “brutal” and for “un-European” treatment of migrants at the border between both countries and demanded intervention from the European Union. “We will not permit anybody to humiliate us. I demand the European Union to react and make sure its member countries are act according to European values,” declared Vucic to Serbian state television while he was on a visit to the USA. “If the EU does not react, we will find a way to defend our borders and European values,” said Vucic. The Serbian PM admonished Hungary to never use tear gas in Serbian territory, and he emphasized that he will also discuss this issue with John Kerry.
The EU might stop enforcing mandatory migrant quotas
The European Commission may desist from its plan for mandatory quotas for 120,000 migrants because of some Eastern European countries, including Hungary — as reported by Reuters on Wednesday, quoting sources on the Commission. The news agency quoted an anonymous source as saying the “mandatory quotas are not an option anymore.” Instead of that, but keeping the total of 120,000 migrants, Reuters is now saying the distribution amongst member countries would be voluntary. “If Hungary does not want to be part of that (the refugee re-settlement program), we could place the migrants in other countries. There is no absence of refugees in Europe,” Reuters quotes its Commission source.
22:30 — By our reporter on location: the Serbian police are standing in a line of migrants who want to advance and blocking them. In the place of the damaged gate they put three lines of NATO net. The mood is peaceful; most people are sleeping already.
An agitator charged with terrorist action
According to information from the M1 [state television] channel, the Hungarian authorities are charging with terrorism the man who agitated and persuaded migrants on the Serbian side to break down the fence. M1’s information was not confirmed but not denied by Viktoria Csiszer-Kovacs, spokesperson for the Hungarian Police HQ, on the show. In the broadcast they mentioned the man’s act fulfilled what Hungarian law calls terrorism. M1 announced that the man was arrested and was presently being interrogated. About the gate at Röszke, Viktoria Csiszer-Kovacs told us the police arrested more than one person. She said that by Wednesday evening, this part of the border was peaceful. She also explained the Hungarian police were cooperating with their Serbian colleagues to unite families where members were stuck on one or the other side of the border. The police spokesperson told the viewers the police officers were using their own inventory to provide food and drinks for children and women.
22.00 — By evening order is restored in Röszke
By evening the order was restored at the border crossing of Röszke, where a group of armed migrants from Serbian territory damaged the crossing’s fence and attacked police officers guarding the state border, according to the government spokesman on location on Wednesday.
Zoltan Kovacs told us: What happened at Röszke — including the fact that they used children as human shields — shows they are not peaceful refugees we talking about, but something serious, which endangers Hungary. From the Serbian side came no help at all for Hungary from the police for many hours. They arrived in the evening, which definitely requires an explanation, he said, and added: it seems like not everyone thinks they should take their part and cooperate in guarding their borders.
Hungary just tries to defend its borders, Zoltan Kovacs said Wednesday evening to BBC at the Hungarian-Serbian border about the events. The government spokesman who was giving an interview to the BBC News live show said: “First a couple of hundred young migrant were shouting slogans, and in the afternoon suddenly all turned into violence.”
Zoltan Kovacs explained that the mob had given an ultimatum to the border guards, telling them if they were not allowed into Hungary they would break down the gate. “No authority in the world would accept such an ultimatum”. He added: the most shocking part of was when the mob started to use children as human shields and even threw kids at the police line. He said around two dozen police officer were injured, two of them seriously. According to Zoltan Kovacs, in recent weeks it was very clear that the Serbian and Macedonian authorities helped the migrants to reach their destinations. This is not the kind of solidarity we expect from countries wanting to become EU member states, he added.
In answer to a reporter’s question about UN refugee organizations’ criticism of the Hungarian authorities for the too-slow registration of migrants, the spokesman explained: these types of procedures take time anywhere in the world, and most of the migrants arrive at the Hungarian border without any documents.
Gyorgy Bakondi, the lead security adviser to the Prime Minister, told us that for defense against attack they moved a large enough force to the location, including riot police and the Anti-Terrorist group (SWAT). 29 migrants were arrested for attacking officers, including a known terrorist. Gyorgy Bakondi emphasized they will have enough police officers at the border crossing, and for the next day they will also restore the fence. During the attack, mostly from rocks and blows from sticks, a total of twenty police officers were injured, two of them seriously. Three of them had light injuries, but were still sent to the hospital.
Serbian TV reporters say the Hungarian police beat them up
Serbian state television reported that its crew were beaten up by Hungarian police officers, and they also broke their camera at Röszke. The RTS homepage claimed that a reporter, a cameraman and another crew member were beaten up, even after they identified themselves as journalists.
The news crew were in between the Hungarian police and the migrants. Based on RTS information, the Hungarian police officers pushed the cameraman into a wall and hit his back and head with a baton before his camera was broken. The reporter sustained an injury to his arm. All three man were transported to the closest hospital, says the report. Jacek Tacik, a Polish reporter, also sustained light head injuries, while he was giving a report at the Röszke border, as reported by the TVPInfo Polish state television news on Wednesday night. “The situation looked calm, when suddenly the Hungarian police started moving forward in the direction of the migrants while they waded through the journalists. That is when I took some blows from a baton,” Tacik wrote about the incident.
He added that he got medical help on the Hungarian side of the border, and he feels fine. He says the Hungarian police were “surprised” that he was beaten by them. “Huge chaos here, the migrants constantly trying to break through the border,” added the Polish reporter. He also said: he will try to return to the Serbian side of the border to continue his reports from there.
The Croatian border will have a fence, too
Hungary will build fences in specific parts of the Croatian border, said Viktor Orbán in an interview on the home page of the Austrian newspaper Die Presse on Wednesday night. The Prime Minister added that he talked to the Minister of the Interior and they have “plans in place for this situation”.
The newspaper raised the issue that this requires time, but the Prime Minister told them Hungary already has experience in this. Viktor Orbán added the real power does not come from the fence. We have new laws which will provide serious punishments for illegal migrants.
In 30 days the border crossings at Röszke will be closed — the decision by Peter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Sandor Pinter, Minister of Interior, was confirmed to the M1 state channel on Wednesday afternoon.
Belgrade will send police officers to the Hungarian border to push the migrants further away from the border fence — said Serbian Minister of the Interior Nebojsa Stefanovic on Wednesday.
The Serbian police were placed at the border to prevent migrants from attacking the Hungarian police, and to separate in a “human and respectful way” the migrants from the border fence and the Hungarian police — according to Stefanovic in his statement.
Serbia protested about the use of water cannon
A member of the Serbian government “first, last, and all the time” protested against the use of water cannon against the aggressive migrants by the Hungarian police forces at the common border between the two countries.
Serbian Minister of Social Affairs Aleksandar Vulin gave an interview live in Horgos [Serbian village close to the border with a Hungarian majority] to Serbian state television, and he added that Hungary has no right to do this.
The effect of water cannons crosses the line of the border; no state has the right to do this and I protest against it, says the politician handling migration cases in Serbia. He went to Horgos to collect information, and brought supplies.
He understands the disappointment of the migrants after Hungary closed its borders.
Zagreb will help the migrants cross over into Croatia and help them reach their destination in Western Europe, said Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic. Presently they receive 1500 migrants daily and if more come they can add more resources, said the Minister of the Interior.
[Former Croatian Interior Minister] Ranko Ostojic told us that until the afternoon around 350 people had entered illegally across the border from Serbia to Croatia. Right now they are waiting for registration and to be transported to Zagreb, Sissek and Kutina to stay at temporary accommodations. “It looks like the migrants are trying to use Croatia as a transit country,” he commented, and he added: we have to follow all European laws. The Croatian state railway company announced that they will provide charter trains from Zagreb to Vinkovic at the Croatian-Serbian border to transport the migrants. The Austrian police force started the border control at the Hungarian-Austrian border at 7 am.
The Austrian authorities started the border control between Austria and Slovenia, too. Minister of the Interior Johanna Mikl-Leitner explained: after the Austrian-Hungarian border was controlled the situation improved; now the Austrian-Slovenian border must be controlled. They will not send back any migrants to Hungary after they start the border check but Austria will obey the Dublin Accord. The Minister emphasized the border control will not impede the migration, and they want to register everybody. Mikl-Leitner also included that, based on their agreement with Germany, no migrants were returned to Austria. They still provide opportunity to everyone to apply for refugee status in Austria but most migrants wants to go to Germany and Sweden.
Slovenia wants to start checks at the border between Slovenia and Hungary, said Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar to journalists. Slovenia strengthened its borders, mobilized its police force and ordered helicopters to both the Slovenian-Hungarian and Slovenian-Croatian borders, said Under-Secretary of State Sefic Bostjan in Lendva. The employee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs told us that they are now certain they will create a registration center in the city. They do not know how many migrants they can expect. To answer a reporter’s question he explained, “Slovenia will try to accept as many refugees as arrive. Right now the capacity is around five to seven thousand, but we will take care of everybody. The crowd will decrease over time because these people do not want to stay in Slovenia. Slovenia will fulfill its obligations dictated by the Schengen Accord. They will only transport the migrants to another country if that other state requests this.”
Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta stated that he is joining to the European politicians, and he condemns the shameful behavior of Hungary on migrant issues as many times as necessary, no matter whether Budapest feels aggrieved or not. To answer the Romanian PM’s critical comments, Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter Szijjártó responded: “The Romanian politicians have fallen into a lie-spiral: they talk about common solutions while their belligerence and lies make cooperation impossible.”
Peter Szijjártó added that in his opinion Romanian politicians are frustrated because the present situation will reveal more about their ability to defend their borders and their preparation level for the Schengen membership that they would like to reveal.
[Translator’s note: the article was updated repeatedly at the top, so that the oldest part was at the bottom. The earliest material was all repeated later, so the last portion has been omitted.]