Serbia not redirecting migrants to Croatia, says commissioner

Serbia's Commissioner for Refugees and Migration, Vladimir Cucic, has dismissed as unfounded reports by some Croatian media that Serbian authorities have been trying to redirect disgruntled migrants to the border with Croatia, underlining that Serbia has excellent cooperation with both Hungary and Croatia in the management of the migrant crisis.  

"Those claims are not serious and they are unfounded and in no way correspond with the situation on the ground. Serbian authorities have established excellent cooperation with the relevant Hungarian and Croatian institutions and disruptions are in no one's interest because we would all have problems then," Cucic said on Wednesday in a comment on yesterday's protest of a group of migrants in Belgrade and their attempt to reach the border with Hungary on foot.

Most of some 300 migrants who on Tuesday headed out on foot from Belgrade to the border with Hungary, protesting against the EU's closed borders, returned to the Serbian capital during the night.

The Croatian commercial TV station Nova TV has carried reports alleging that Serbian officials in charge of refugees have been talking migrants into going to Croatia instead of Hungary.

Due to rainy and cold weather, the protesting migrants gave up their protest walk at Stara Pazova but a group of about 50 spent the night at a petrol station and decided to continue their journey to Novi Sad and further north to the border with Hungary, the Belgrade media said today.

Both groups are under police escort and most of the migrants walking to the border with Hungary are Afghans, who are considered to be economic migrants, officials told the media.

Nova TV said on its web site that its reporter heard a representative of the Serbian government's Office for Refugees trying to persuade the migrants to head out to the border with Croatia instead of Hungary because the border with Hungary is completely closed.

Cucic earlier told the regional TV network N1 that they were trying to dissuade the migrants from walking at night and in cold weather and to go to the reception centre at Principovac near Sid, close to the border with Croatia, where they would be given food and accommodation.

Cucic resolutely dismissed the possibility that any of Serbian officials would redirect migrants to the border with Croatia, stressing that police and border authorities were in control of the situation and responded efficiently to individual incidents, when migrants tried to illegally cross the border.

"A system of passage has been agreed with Hungary and it functions, a list of some 4,800 people has been agreed, Hungarians let 15 people cross the border every day, and migrants and refugees are aware of that. Decisions on who can and who cannot pass the border are made by the relevant Hungarian bodies and we cannot influence them," Cucic told Hina, noting that yesterday's protest was not accidental or spontaneous.

"It is very unusual for 335 people to cause traffic chaos in Belgrade, head out on foot to the border with Hungary and then 200 of them suddenly give up on the protest. People who barely understand a word of English are carrying banners with messages in English... Speaking frankly, a number of nongovernmental organisations is probably involved in the protest," Cucic said, expressing suspicion that the European anarchist network No Border was also involved.

Last update: Wed, 05/10/2016 - 12:49
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