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Map of the Croatian border area. Supplied

Austria warns that migrants massing at EU border could be violent

On Croatia's border, only 224 kilometers from Austria, more than 20 000 migrants have been massing, hoping for a chance of a violent breakthrough to Central Europe. 

Published: November 7, 2018, 8:49 am

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    Vienna

    The Austrian daily Krone Zeitung spoke to liaison officers to get most the up-to-date information on the situation in the Bosnian-Croatian border area at Velika-Kladusa, some 224 kilometers from the busiest border crossing into Austria, Spielfeld-Sentilj.

    The head of department at the Ministry of the Interior believes a breakthrough attempt by “at least 20 000 migrants” at this border crossing to Central Europe could be imminent.

    “The Croats are really trying to handle this alone. They have also positioned special forces at this transition,” say the analysts of Group III (Migration) at the Interior Ministry in Vienna.

    But there are developments that are worrying, officials say: “Now others are coming – no more families, and there are hardly any women left. Some 95 percent of these migrants who want to break through are young men, almost all armed with knives. A border policeman has already been stabbed. ”

    Among the immigrants waiting in Bosnia, there are no more Syrians: “The mass comes from Pakistan. And there are many Iranians, Algerians, Moroccans. ” Their goal is not Austria, according to the Ministry. ” The migrants want to go to Germany, on to Scandinavian countries. Austria has too bad a reputation for them now.”

    The EU is ignoring the crisis. “Europe does not want to offer any help to  the Croats,” the Austrian Interior Ministry stressed.

    According to the Ministry, a breakthrough by migrants at Velika-Kladusa should be prevented for one reason only, and that is so that it does not become a signal for the departure of tens of thousands more migrants.

    One solution is being advanced: in November, a large deployment exercise by the border protection force Frontex is to take place exactly at this crossing.

    Bihac and Velika-Kledusa are both located near to the Croatian border in areas that are known to be easy crossing points because there are no border roads in this area, just forests. The migrants hope they will be able to sneak through these wooded areas, undetected by Croatian border guards.

    In October the attempt by several hundred migrants to break the cordon of the Croatian police to enter the European Union led to Zagreb’s decision to stop the migrant traffic in Maljevac.

    Professor Sej Ramić, is city councilor in Bihać and administrator of the Facebook group STOP invaziji migranata!! Udruženje gradjana Bihaća [STOP the invasion of migrants!! Association of citizens of Bihać].

    In the capital of the Una-Sana canton, at the border region with Croatia where Velika Kladuša is also located, Sej Ramić is leading the popular discontent towards immigration.

    “I have nothing against refugees, but these are economic migrants, travelling without sisters, wives or mothers”, says Sej Ramić. “But we must not blame these people, it’s not their fault if they’re here. There are higher interests. We must ask: who is interested in seeing hundreds of migrants walking around Bihać?”, argues the town councilor. “Who? I do not know”, admits Ramić, before attacking Brussels.

    “Bosnia and Herzegovina has ten cantons and another entity, Republika Srpska. Why send all the migrants here? There are people in Sarajevo who do not like democracy in our canton”, explains Sej Ramić.

    The Bosnian professor has questioned the EU’s resolve: “Is immigration in Bosnia the price to pay for membership? Perhaps there is a broader plan: they want illegal migrants to take our place, while we all go to Germany”.

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