Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia threaten to close borders

  • 25/10/2015
Migrants wait to enter registration camp in Serbia (Reuters)
Migrants wait to enter registration camp in Serbia (Reuters)

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

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov today 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.

The Bulgarian, Romanian and Serbian premiers held talks in Sofia on the eve of a meeting called by European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker, who has been urging a cross-border approach to the crisis, which 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 to halt the flow of new arrivals, and 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 with his Romanian and Serbian counterparts.

Over past months non-EU member Serbia has been swamped by migrants on their way from Greece and Macedonia to northern Europe, though Bulgaria and Romania have so far largely remained on the sidelines of the influx.

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

Germany, the EU's top economy, has taken in the vast majority of the migrants landing in Europe this year, most fleeing conflict in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Saturday, a new German law came into effect to speed up the expulsion of people deemed to be economic migrants and to restrict political asylum for Albanian, Montenegrin and Kosovan nationals to exceptional cases.

Sunday's summit in Brussels will bring the leaders of non-EU members Macedonia and Serbia together with the leaders of eight EU countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia.