Romanian PM criticizes Hungary for fence plan - UPDATED

Romanian PM criticizes Hungary for fence plan - <span style="color: red;">UPDATED
# 16 September 2015 03:47 (UTC +04:00)

10:00 p.m.

Romania's prime minister has criticized Hungary for planning to put up a wire fence along part of its border with Romania to slow the flow of migrants.

Victor Ponta said Tuesday on his Facebook page that "barbed wire, aggressive laws, prison and brutality will not resolve problems."

Ponta added on Antena 3 television that he was "horrified" to think about what to do "if Hungarian troops begin to shoot or kill children and women."

He said the fence plans show that Hungary "in the heart of Europe, has political decision makers which are no better than those in Syria, Libya or other countries that refugees flee from."


8:50 p.m.

The European Union will hold an extra meeting of justice and interior ministers next week to seek progress on how relocate some 120,000 refugees among its members.

Tuesday's decision for the Sep. 22 meeting came in the wake of inconclusive meeting of interior ministers Monday where at least four eastern nations objected to the quota proposals to spread the refugees from Italy, Greece and Hungary across 22 other EU nations.

The EU is also considering a possible summit of all 28 EU leaders next week to assess the migration crisis.

___ 8:20 p.m.

The chief of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says European countries are misguided if they think erecting fences will help solve the continent's immigration crisis.

Fresh from a trip to Hungary, Elhadj As Sy told The Associated Press on Tuesday that "we know throughout history that fences will never be a solution to anything."

Hungary has put up a fence with razor wire along its border with Serbia to block an influx of people — many from war-torn Syria — heading to the European Union. The IFRC secretary-general said he hoped European "solidarity will prevail" to help the arriving masses.


7:40 p.m.

Austria's Interior Ministry says temporary border controls with Hungary will be in effect immediately after midnight Tuesday.

The ministry says the measure could be extended to the country's borders with Slovenia, Italy and Slovakia, if needed. That reflects the possibility that migrants now streaming into Austria from Hungary could instead try to cross into Austria over those borders in large numbers.

The ministry statement says travelers must carry a passport or EU-recognized identity document if going to those countries now — as well as Switzerland, Germany or the Czech Republic, whose borders to Austria are normally open under the Schengen agreement for passport-free travel. It did not say whether Middle East citizens with travel documents would be allowed to continue.

The ministry says under EU rules the controls — "to maintain public order" — can be extended for up to six months. Police in Vienna said earlier Tuesday that the city's two main train stations are overflowing with migrants.


5:05 p.m.

Czech Prime Minster Bohuslav Sobotka says his government is ready to deploy the armed forces to protect the country's borders against migrants.

Addressing the Parliament on Tuesday, Sobotka says such a measure would be taken if the police alone wouldn't be able to do the job.

Sobotka announced Sunday that more police had been sent to the Austrian-Czech border in response to Germany's decision to renew border controls along its border with Austria. But the Czechs haven't renewed border checks yet.

Sobotka also repeated that the Czech government does not consider mandatory quotas for distributing refugees in EU countries "a good solution. We reject them."


4:55 p.m.

Romania's foreign ministry says Hungary's plans to build a border fence between the two European Union members goes against the spirit of the European Union.

The ministry said Tuesday: "raising a fence between two EU member states who are strategic partners is not a fair gesture."

Hungary's foreign minister says the country is planning to build another razor-wire fence along part of its border with Romania to stop the flow of migrants now that it has finished a fence on the Serbian order.


4:40 p.m.

The aid group Doctors Without Borders is warning of possible renewed chaos at Greece's border with Macedonia after Hungary launched a security crackdown to stop people crossing its southern border with Serbia.

The group's humanitarian adviser Aurelie Ponthieu said Tuesday that border closures "tend to have a domino effect" as neighboring countries follow suit.

Macedonian border guards were overwhelmed last month when hundreds of migrants forced their way across from Greece. Ponthieu said MSF is calling "urgently for safe and legal channels to be created" so people can cross Europe without putting their lives at risk.


3:50 p.m.

Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico says his country will stand firm in rejecting mandatory quotas for distributing refugees in European Union countries.

"We will never support the compulsory quotas," Fico said Tuesday, a day after interior ministers of EU countries failed to reach a deal to share the burden of hosting refugees.

Fico said he wants a summit of EU leaders to discuss the issue.


3:45 p.m.

Search-and-rescue operations at a boat sinking site have ended, and the Turkish coast guard says 249 people were rescued and 22 drowned.

Mugla Province governor Amir Cicek said the wooden boat that sank Tuesday morning had a capacity for 50-60 people, "271 people were sailing on it." The vessel had been aiming for the nearby Greek island of Kos. He said those who died included four children.

The incident comes after 34 people drowned off the Greek island of Farmakonissi on Sunday after a similar wooden boat sank. Nearly 100 more were rescued.


3:35 p.m.

Hungary's foreign minister says his country is also planning to build a razor-wire fence along part of its border with Romania to stop the flow of migrants now that it has finished a fence on the Serbian border.

Peter Szijjarto says the fence will run "a reasonable distance" along the border, not the entire distance of nearly 450 kilometers (280 miles). He said the fence would run from where the borders of Hungary, Serbia and Romania meet to the Maros River, a distance of 25 kilometers (15 miles).

Szijjarto spoke Tuesday as Hungary called a state of emergency to manage the migration crisis.


3:30 p.m.

Chancellor Angela Merkel is rejecting the notion that Germany encouraged more migrants to set off toward Europe by sending welcoming signals to refugees.

Merkel said Tuesday that the images that went around the world weren't of her but of ordinary Germans welcoming people to stations in Munich and elsewhere earlier this month. She said: "the world said that was a nice gesture, and that came from people's hearts."

Merkel added: "If we start having to apologize for showing a friendly face in emergencies, then that isn't my country."

She said that the decision to let in migrants who had piled up in Hungary was right, but it was also natural then to consider how to manage the situation.


3:25 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she doesn't favor threatening other European Union nations in the migration crisis after her interior minister raised the idea of cutting EU funding to those that don't take in refugees.

Merkel said after meeting Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann on Tuesday that "we must try to restore a European spirit." She added: "I don't think that threats are the right way to an agreement."

Merkel and Faymann insisted anew that the crisis is an issue for the whole EU. Faymann said: "Many countries are sticking their heads in the sand and hoping that the problem will pass them by because Germany, Austria and Sweden have signaled a different humanitarian position."

He added: "Trampling on the right to asylum is not an alternative in our community of values."


3:20 p.m.

Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf has called Europe's migrant crisis "a tragedy that has touched us all."

Speaking at Tuesday's opening of Parliament, the monarch stressed the country's traditions of tolerance and humanitarianism.

"Let us seize on this feeling and try to find ways to help people in need," the 69-year-old king said in a speech.

Sweden received more than 80,000 asylum-seekers in 2014, the highest per capita in the European Union.


3:05 p.m.

Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec is blaming Germany for the current migrant crisis.

"The current biggest problem of solving migration is an inconsistent policy of Germany," Chovanec said on Twitter. "And showing muscles to the neighbors across the border won't conceal it."

The comments came after Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said he supports the idea of cutting European Union funding to countries that refuse to share the burden of hosting refugees — which would include the Czech Republic.


2:55 p.m.

Hundreds of people trying to reach Europe have gathered at a central bus station in Istanbul, hoping to travel to the northwestern Turkish province of Edirne, which borders European Union members Greece and Bulgaria.

The group said they had been waiting for hours Tuesday and would walk the 300 kilometers (200 miles) to the Greek border if they were unable to board buses.

Asylum-seekers are planning a sit-in protest near the border with Greece, hoping authorities would allow them to cross into Europe overland instead of them having to risk their lives by sea trying to reach Greek islands.

The governor of Edirne said 7,000 migrants hoping to reach Europe through Turkey's western border were caught and turned back this past week.

Turkey hosts some 2 million Syrian refugees.


2:40 p.m.

Serbia's foreign minister says his country finds it "unacceptable" that migrants are being sent back from Hungary while more and more are arriving from Macedonia and Greece.

Ivica Dacic, speaking in Prague, said Tuesday that "Serbia is not a collection center," adding that "we want to be part of the solution, not collateral damage. There will have to be talks in the coming days with Brussels and other countries."

Dacic said "Serbia can't deal with it on its own" and that his country, which isn't an EU member, is "stuck between two EU parts which don't cooperate and which have different policies."


2:35 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says her country and Austria are calling for a special European Union summit next week to discuss the continent's migration crisis.

Merkel said Tuesday after meeting Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann that the two countries proposed a summit to EU President Donald Tusk.

She said the idea is not to discuss so-far stalled plans for a redistribution of refugees around the EU, which is in "good hands" with EU interior ministers.

Instead, Merkel said that leaders would discuss how to support countries from which people are fleeing; how to work better with Turkey, from which many are setting off in flimsy boats for Greece; and how to speed up camps in Greece and Italy to register incoming refugees.


2:25 p.m.

Poland's prime minister says the country will receive refugees fleeing for their lives with an "open heart" but will expect them to return home once when their countries are safe.

Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz said Tuesday that Poland is reviewing its capacity to host refugees and will likely take in more than the 2,000 it said it would. But she gave no new figure. The European Union wants Poland to take in about 12,000 people.

"We will shelter them while the situation at home threatens their life or health," Kopacz said. "We cannot guarantee that we will take in the people arriving in Europe forever."


2:10 p.m.

The governor of Turkey's northwestern province of Edirne says nearly 7,000 asylum-seekers in the past week have been caught and turned back as they headed toward the country's western borders with Greece and Bulgaria.

The state-run Anadolu Agency quoted Gov. Dursun Ali Sahin as saying Tuesday that asylum-seekers wouldn't be permitted to walk to the Greek and Bulgarian border crossings. They were being returned to the areas they had been registered in within Turkey. The police have increased checkpoints at the city of Edirne.

More than 250,000 people have crossed from Turkey to Greece so far this year, with most undertaking a perilous boat trip to nearby Greek islands. But with deadly shipwrecks claiming lives, some are seeking to cross Greece's short, heavily-guarded land border with Turkey.


2:05 p.m.

The European Union's top diplomat has lambasted member nations for failing to sufficiently finance EU efforts to tackle the root causes of the migration wave.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told European lawmakers on Tuesday that "I expect contributions to come in the next hours — not months, hours."

Among different projects, the EU is setting up a trust fund worth 1.8 billion euros ($2 billion) to help African nations better manage their borders and a 45 million euro ($51 million) fund targeting the refugee crisis in Syria.

The EU is coming under growing criticism for its slow and disjointed handling of Europe's biggest refugee emergency in decades.


1:55 p.m.

All soccer players in Germany's first and second divisions will show their solidarity for people fleeing war and poverty by wearing patches this weekend

All players will carry a patch on their left arm saying "We're helping, (hashtag)refugeeswelcome" instead of an advertisement logo for logistics company Hermes. The initiative is also being supported by German tabloid Bild.

Hertha Berlin general manager Michael Preetz says, "The refugees crisis concerns everyone, nobody can look away. We Bundesliga clubs can ... no, we must use our reach, influence, and ability to help the many refugees who have already suffered so much."


1:50 p.m.

The European Union's executive is calling for an additional meeting of the 28 interior ministers before Oct. 8 when the bloc's nations are slated to find a solution on how to relocate about 120,000 refugees among individual nations.

Tuesday's call came after an inconclusive meeting of interior ministers on Monday where at least four eastern nations objected to the quota proposals to spread the refugees from Italy, Greece and Hungary across 22 other EU nations.

EU leaders are also scheduled to meet in Brussels on Oct. 15-16.


1:40 p.m.

A spokeswoman for the U.N.'s refugee agency says it's "deeply disappointed that more bold decisions weren't taken" at an EU meeting about Europe's migration crisis.

Melissa Fleming on Tuesday welcomed an announcement by the European Union on Monday in Brussels to increase funding for UNHCR — though it doesn't know the figure.

She said the U.N. agency is hopeful the EU will better handle the migrants crisis in coming weeks, but "up until then I think we are going to continue to live with chaos."

The International Organization for Migration estimates more than 464,000 migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean to Europe this year. More than 181,000 of those are Syrians.

IOM says 2,182 people have died trying to make the crossing so far this year.


1:25 p.m.

Serbia's social affairs minister in charge of migrants says a key Hungarian border crossing has to remain open amid Europe's migration crisis.

Aleksandar Vulin told The Associated Press as he toured the Hungary-Serbia border that "the Hungarians never told us that they will close the border."

Vulin, who was touring the Serbian side of the Roszke-Horgos border checkpoint, said Tuesday "this is not only a Hungarian and Serbian problem. This is a problem for the whole of Europe. Europe has to find a solution fast before the situation escalates even further. This border crossing, one of the main ones in Europe, has to remain open."


1:15 p.m.

Austria is warning the country might soon be short of emergency shelters for people streaming into the country from Hungary in Europe's migration crisis.

The Interior Ministry says that it had 20,000 places across the country as of Monday night, compared to the approximately 19,700 that needed shelter. The ministry said that 4,000 more had arrived as of noon Tuesday (1000 GMT).


12:50 p.m.

Hungarian authorities say they detained 60 migrants for attempting to illegally enter the country's southern border with Serbia by breaching a razor-wire fence.

The detentions on Tuesday came as new laws took effect to stop the huge flow of migrants through the country.

According to the new legislation, it is a felony to cross or damage the 4-meter (13-foot) fence that the country has built along its southern border with Serbia.

Gyorgy Bakondi, homeland security adviser to Prime Minister Viktor Orban, said authorities caught 45 people trying to cross at the southern border and 15 deeper in the country. They are being charged with committing offenses under the new laws.


12 p.m.

The International Organization for Migration is predicting more deaths in the Aegean Sea and increased strains on Greece because of EU "indecision" about how to handle an influx of migrants and refugees to Europe.

IOM spokesman Leonard Doyle said Tuesday that decisions by some European countries to clamp down travel across their borders might have a "domino effect" and affect countries like Greece, where it's harder to stop people — mostly Syrian refugees — from crossing from the Turkish coast.


11:35 a.m.

Hungary has declared a state of emergency in two of its southern counties bordering Serbia because of the migration crisis, giving special powers to police and other authorities.

Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said the decision was made at Tuesday's Cabinet meeting.

The measure also paves the way for the deployment of the army to assist police with border patrol and migrant-related duties. On Tuesday, Hungary began enforcing tougher rules on people entering the country illegally and also increased prison terms for convicted human traffickers.


11:25 a.m.

Germany's vice chancellor says Europe has again made a fool of itself in the migration crisis and is calling for a summit soon of the 28-nation bloc's leaders.

EU interior ministers meeting Monday fell short of agreeing on the redistribution of 120,000 newcomers around the bloc — something that Germany, which has seen the biggest number of migrants, is keen to see.

Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said Tuesday that "Europe made a fool of itself again yesterday."

He added: "Europe's heads of state and government must meet quickly, because this cannot peter out in such ministerial meetings."

Gabriel said "what we are experiencing now threatens Europe much more than the Greek crisis."


10:10 a.m.

Germany's interior minister is floating the idea of cutting European Union funding to countries that refuse to share the burden of hosting refugees.

Several EU countries, particularly in the former Eastern bloc, have rejected calls from Germany and the EU's executive Commission for mandatory quotas to spread refugees out among the 28-nation bloc.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Tuesday there needs to be discussion of how to exert pressure. He told ZDF television that the countries rejecting quotas often receive significant amounts of EU funding.

He said that Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker has suggested — "and I find that right" — that "we should talk about (them) getting less money from the structural funds."