Croatia closes Serbia border crossing

Croatia has closed seven of its eight border crossings with Serbia with Croatian Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic stating that his country was “absolutely full”. Refugees had begun to attempt to cross Croatia after Hungary closed its borders and used force to disperse the crowds including tear gas and water cannons, a move condemned by the UN.

Despite the closure of the border crossings, many refugees continued to cross over, bypassing security by crossing the fields.

The crisis has put a great strain on the doctrine of freedom of movement, threatening the operation of the EU itself. With Hungary closing its borders and Croatian interior minister telling refugees ‘Don’t come here anymore’, the EU states are at odds with how to welcome (or reject) the refugees.

An EU leaders’ summit has been called to discuss the crisis on 23 September with mandatory relocation of refugees on the agenda. Despite the EU Parliament voting in favour of the latter, differences between the individual states have prevented any form of implementation.

Why are there so many refugees?

  • Syria is currently experiencing a civil war after the government brutally cracked down on protests as the Arab Spring spread to Syria.
  • The regime, backed by Iran and Russia, has refused attempts to step down and call free and fair elections, declaring instead that it is involved in a war against terrorism.
  • The conflict has spread across the country, encompassing even the major cities of Aleppo, Homs, Idlib and Damascus.
  • The international community have hesitated in backing the ‘revolution’ due to an incoherent structure as well as fears over support inadvertently reaching terrorist groups which are believed to be operating within the ranks of the revolutionary forces.
  • Geographically, Turkey and Europe are easier to access than the Arab States. Iraq sits between Syria and Saudi Arabia and the instability makes it difficult to cross over.