Serbia says 'cannot handle' migrant influx

Migrants shout to open the border near the village of Horgos, Serbia, Sept 15, 2015.
Migrants shout to open the border near the village of Horgos, Serbia, Sept 15, 2015.REUTERS

PRAGUE (AFP) - EU-hopeful Serbia on Tuesday said it was unable to handle the sheer number of migrants gathered on its sealed border with Hungary and called on the European Union to sort out the record migrant crisis.

"This is a serious crisis for the EU which must treat it seriously and with a clear plan," Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic told reporters in Prague.

"The idea of returning all migrants to Serbia, with others flowing in from Greece and Macedonia, is unacceptable, because we would then become the centre of arrivals," he said after talks with Czech counterpart Lubomir Zaoralek.

"We would like to be part of the solution to the problem, but this can't be to our detriment," Dacic said, adding that "Serbia cannot handle this."

Hungary has said that migrants whose asylum applications it rejects will be returned to Serbia.


Budapest on Tuesday effectively sealed its southern border with Serbia, blocking a gap in a razor-wire barrier where many of the migrants passed through, as well as two official border crossing points.

It also introduced new laws punishing "illegal border-crossing" with prison terms of up to three years.

Hungary, a member of the EU and the Schengen passport-free travel zone, has served largely as a transit country for refugees heading to western Europe, just like Serbia.

"We have seen 140,000 migrants cross our country and only 550 have applied for asylum in Serbia, all the others would like to continue to western Europe," said Dacic.

He added Serbia already had hundreds of thousands of refugees from Croatia and Kosovo on its soil, a legacy of past conflicts in the western Balkans.