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Border closure threat issued

Updated: 2015-10-26 07:58
By Agence France-Presse in Sofia, Bulgaria (China Daily)

Bulgarian PM says three countries will not become a 'buffer zone' for migrants

Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia threatened on Saturday to close their borders if EU countries to the north stop accepting migrants, as European leaders prepare for emergency talks on the continent's worst refugee crisis since World War II.

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov said the three countries wanted a Europe-wide solution to the crisis but were not prepared to become a "buffer zone" for the tens of thousands of new arrivals.

 Border closure threat issued

Around 2,000 migrants who arrived by train, walk near the border town of Kljuc Brdovecki, on Saturday, to cross the Croatia-Slovenia border. AFP

The Bulgarian, Romanian and Serbian premiers met in Sofia on the eve of talks called by European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, who has urged a cross-border approach to a crisis that has seen 670,000 people arrive on Europe's shores this year.

The influx has prompted EU member Hungary to close its borders with Serbia and Croatia as fears rise that the crisis is bringing Europe's cherished "Schengen" system of borderless travel under threat. Slovenia has threatened to do likewise.

Borisov and his Serbian and Romanian counterparts said the best solution was commonly-agreed action across Europe but warned that if other EU countries followed Hungary's lead, they would have to act.

"All three countries, we are ready if Germany and Austria and other countries close their borders, ... we will be ready to also close our borders at that very same moment," Borisov said after the talks in Sofia. "We will not let our nations become a buffer zone of the migrant flows that will become stranded between Turkey and the fences built up from Serbia."

Over recent months non-EU member Serbia has been swamped by migrants on their way from Greece to northern Europe, though Bulgaria and Romania have been much less affected.

Hostility toward new arrivals has been growing in Germany and Sweden, Europe's most popular destinations for asylum seekers, lending increased urgency to efforts to get other EU members to accept a greater share of the arrivals.

Police in Sweden said a planned refugee home around 90 kilometers west of Stockholm caught fire Friday night in a suspected arson attack, while on Thursday a man armed with a sword killed two people in a racist attack at a Swedish school with many immigrant pupils.

German authorities have also reported mounting anti-migrant violence. On Thursday, prosecutors said the police had foiled a far-right plot to torch migrant shelters in the town of Bamberg.

Germany is bracing for up to a million asylum applications this year.

(China Daily 10/26/2015 page12)

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