Hungary police have used tear gas and water cannon to force refugees back from the Serbian border.
Hundreds of refugees have massed at a closed crossing point near the Serbian town of Horgos, and are involved in a tense stand-off with police on the other side of the border.
Some migrants threw missiles, including stones and water bottles.
Many of the refugees want to reach Germany, amid divisions within the EU over how to deal with the crisis.
Tens of thousands of people have crossed into Hungary to enter the EU’s Schengen zone, which normally allows people to travel between member countries without restrictions.
Hungary closed its entire border with Serbia on September 15 after making it illegal to enter the country or damage a new razor-wire border fence. The country’s courts have started fast-track trials of arrested migrants.
Serbia’s foreign ministry – which has protested over the firing of tear gas and water cannon into its territory – says Hungary has now closed the main border crossing between the two countries to all traffic for 30 days.
Photo Getty Images
There were chaotic scenes near Horgos, with fires burning and police vehicles and ambulances arriving on the Serbian side of the border, across from massed ranks of riot police on the Hungarian side.
The Hungarian government says 20 police officers were injured as migrants tried to break through a gate.
The firing of tear gas and water cannon created a stampede of migrants away from the border.
Several people received treatment from the Serbian ambulance service, some suffering the effects of tear gas.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said he is “shocked” by the treatment of migrants.
Serbian minister Aleksandar Vulin, visiting the scene, said the migrants’ frustration was understandable after Hungary closed the border.
“Hungary must show it is ready and capable to accept these people,” he said.
Serbia has said it will send additional police to its border with Hungary and try to distance migrants from the fence.
“The aim is to prevent further attacks on the Hungarian police from our territory and in a humane and respectful way distance the migrants from the fence and the Hungarian police,” said Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic in a statement.
Meanwhile, Croatia has said it will allow migrants to travel on to northern Europe, opening up a new route a day after Hungary sealed its border with Serbia.
A steady stream of migrants is crossing into Croatia from Serbia, with some of those stranded on Serbia’s border with Hungary now using the same route.
Croatian PM Zoran Milanovic said: “We are ready to accept and direct those people… to where they apparently wish to go.”
Dozens of refugees have reached Croatia – opening up a new route to northern EU countries, a day after Hungary sealed its border with Serbia.
The refugees crossed into Croatia, an EU member, from Serbia.
Croatia says it is ready to receive them or “direct” them to where they want to go. Many migrants – mainly Syrian – are hoping to reach Germany.
New border restrictions and a row over allocating migrants have shown bitter divisions in Europe over the crisis.
Hundreds of refugees remain stranded outside or in makeshift tents near the Serbian border with Hungary.
On September 15, Hungary declared a state of emergency in the border area, with hundreds of army and police deployed to enforce new laws making it an offence to breach a razor-wire border fence.
Police sealed a railway crossing point near Roszke which had been used by tens of thousands of migrants to enter the European border-free Schengen zone.
The move has all but stopped the inflow.
On September 16, Hungarian police said they had detained 367 refugees entering illegally – and the first criminal proceedings have been launched.
The EU’s border agency says more than 500,000 refugees have arrived at the EU’s borders so far this year, compared with 280,000 in 2014.
Many are fleeing conflict and poverty in countries including Syria, where a civil war has been raging since 2011.
The refugees have been crossing from Turkey, with about 1,000 in the city of Edirne on September 16, waiting to organize a crossing into Greece. Their journey would then take them to Macedonia and Serbia.
Until September 15, most poured into Schengen member Hungary and crossed into Austria to reach Germany. Both Germany and Austria have introduced tighter border controls to control the flow.
A group of about 40 refugees arrived in the border town of Sid in Serbia on September 16. They had travelled by bus from the Serbian town of Presevo near the Macedonian border in the south.
They crossed into Croatia where police began registering them.
Croatia’s PM Zoran Milanovic told parliament that authorities were “entirely ready to receive or direct those people where they want to go, which is obviously Germany or Scandinavian countries”.
“They will be able to pass through Croatia and we will help, we’re getting ready for that possibility,” he said.
A meeting of the Croatian National Security Council has been called to co-ordinate the response.
Croatian media have warned of the dangers posed by landmines dating back to Croatia’s war of independence in the early 1990s, even though experts say the areas are clearly marked.
The Serbian minister in charge of the government’s working committee on migrants, Aleksandar Vulin, argued that the closure of the border by Hungary was unsustainable for Serbia.
Hungary has said it could extend its fence to the border with Romania – a possible new route.
Romania said this would violate the “European spirit” of co-operation.
Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban says the migrant crisis facing Europe is a “German problem” since Germany is where those arriving in the EU “would like to go”.
He said Hungary would not allow migrants to leave its territory without registering.
Viktor Orban’s comments came as Hungarian authorities opened Budapest’s main rail station to hundreds of migrants after a two-day stand-off.
One train left, but then stopped near a migrant reception centre.
Migrants resisted efforts by police to get them off the train at Bicske, about 25 miles west of Budapest. Some were banging on the windows and shouting “Germany, Germany”.
EU rules place responsibility for assessing asylum claims on the country where a migrant first arrives.
Many of the migrants currently in Hungary have been refusing to register there, in order to continue their journeys to Germany before seeking asylum.
The migrants stuck at Budapest’s Keleti station were prevented from boarding trains on September 1 and 2. Some were involved in scuffles with police.
They had bought tickets after Hungary briefly appeared to abandon efforts to register migrants on August 31, allowing huge numbers to board trains to Vienna and southern Germany.
After the station opened on September 3, rail staff said international trains were indefinitely suspended, but international tickets would be accepted on internal trains.
The number of migrants entering Europe has reached record levels, with 107,500 arriving in July alone. Germany expects to take in 800,000 migrants this year – four times last year’s total.
The surge in numbers has created tension and disagreement over EU migration policy. Germany has been prepared to accept large numbers of asylum seekers, but other countries have not.
Viktor Orban, who heads the anti-immigrant Fidesz party and was in Brussels for talks, said border control was “the number one issue”.
During a tense press conference with European Parliament President Martin Schulz, PM Viktor Orban said that “nobody would like to stay in Hungary, neither in Slovakia nor Poland nor Estonia”.
“All of them would like to go to Germany,” he said.
“Our job is only to register them.”
Martin Schulz countered: “What we are seeing for the time being is egoism instead of common European sense.
“To say <<yeah, you know we have refugees all over in Europe but they all want to go to Germany and therefore we are not concerned>> is effective, but wrong. And therefore I think we need a fair and just distribution.”
Hungary has summoned US charge d’affaires Andre Goodfriend after Senator John McCain described PM Viktor Orban as a “neo-fascist dictator”.
The Hungarian government rejected the remarks, which it said were totally unacceptable.
Republican John McCain was speaking in the Senate on December 2 before a vote on the appointment of former TV soap opera producer Colleen Bell as ambassador to Hungary.
Colleen Bell was “totally unqualified” for such a role, he said.
John McCain had been unimpressed with Colleen Bell this year when he questioned her during her confirmation hearing about what she planned to do differently from her predecessor as ambassador to Budapest.
The former The Bold and The Beautiful producer was widely seen as giving a faltering performance.
Colleen Bell, John McCain said, was a political appointee who had contributed $800,000 to President Barack Obama’s last election campaign.
However, it was his next comments that most riled the Hungarian government and prompted Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto to summon US charge d’affaires Andre Goodfriend.
“I am not against political appointees,” John McCain said.
“I understand how the game is played, but here we are, a nation [Hungary] on the verge of ceding its sovereignty to a neo-fascist dictator, getting in bed with [Russian President] Vladimir Putin, and we’re going to send the producer of The Bold and The Beautiful as our ambassador.”
Viktor Orban has in recent months adopted closer relations with Russia, opposing EU and US sanctions imposed on key officials in Moscow because of the conflict in Ukraine. He has also advocated turning Hungary into an “illiberal democracy”.
The foreign ministry state secretary in Budapest said Hungary rejected John McCain’s remarks, both about Viktor Orban and relations with the government in Moscow.
Peter Szijjarto added that voters had three times backed the ruling Fidesz party’s vision of “how they imagine the future of the country”.
People in Hungary have been warned to prepare for their country’s worst floods ever as the Danube is set to reach record levels this weekend.
“We are facing the worst floods of all time,” said Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Europe’s second longest river is set to hit unprecedented levels in the capital Budapest in the next few days.
A state of emergency has been declared, and thousands of volunteers worked overnight to reinforce the banks of the swelling river.
Water levels are set to reach reach 8.85 m (29 ft), some 25 cm (10 in) higher than the Danube’s previous record high in 2006.
Emergency workers have set up camps along the river as residents packed sandbags around their homes amid an atmosphere of concerned expectation.
Kristalina Georgieva, the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, tweeted: “Hungary well prepared for highest ever measured water levels on Danube. We are monitoring & ready to assist.”
Budapest Danube is set to reach record levels this weekend
Viktor Orban, who spent the night at a military barracks in the flooded western city of Gyor, said recent dry weather in Austria and Germany, as well as a hot forecast for Hungary over the weekend, gave reason to hope that Europe’s worst river floods for more than a decade could soon be over.
The Danube peaked on Thursday in the Slovak capital Bratislava, where the main flood defenses held firm.
In northern Germany, workers piled sandbags along the banks of the River Elbe as waters rose, after widespread flooding further south.
As flood waters receded to the south and east, defense work continued apace near Lueneburg in Lower Saxony.
Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from at-risk areas in Germany, where the flooding is worse than that recorded in 2002.
On Thursday the Elbe flooded parts of Dresden as it peaked nearly 7 m (22 feet) above its normal level, but the city’s historic centre remained unscathed.
Upstream along the Elbe in the Czech Republic, emergency workers used boats to shuttle supplies to stranded people as large areas remained under water.
Widespread flooding in central Europe has inundated swathes of Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic, killing at least 15 people.
Hungary has deployed tanks to reach snowbound motorists as cold weather causes transport chaos across Eastern Europe.
T-72 battle tanks trundled along icy roads, while thousands of people waited in cars on the M1 motorway from Budapest to Vienna.
Many had been stuck on the road since Thursday evening.
As Hungary was celebrating its national holiday on Friday many people were travelling when the extreme weather struck.
A series of accidents on the M1 trapped travellers as the snow built up around them.
Hungary has deployed tanks to reach snowbound motorists as cold weather causes transport chaos across Eastern Europe
On Friday afternoon, Hungarian interior ministry sent text messages to all mobile phone subscribers, telling people to stay in their cars as long as their fuel lasted, then move to other vehicles to stay warm.Meteorologists had predicted the cold weather but the sheer number of people trapped in the snow appears to have overwhelmed disaster management services.
Wind gusts of up to 100 km/h (60 mph) and snowdrifts up to 1 m (3 ft) high were reported. The wind is forecast to drop significantly while freezing temperatures will continue.
Heavy snow paralyzed parts of south-eastern Poland, where police were redirecting heavy lorries for fear they would get stuck
At least 19,000 households were left without power in eastern Slovakia after high winds damaged the grid and lorries backed up on a road
Melting snow caused flooding in Kosovo, with reports that a girl of 10 was drowned
In Bulgaria, a woman was killed when high winds brought down scaffolding in the town of Gabrovo.
Hungarian President Pal Schmitt has announced his resignation, after being stripped of his doctorate over plagiarism.
Pal Schmitt, 69, elected in 2010, said “my personal issue divides my beloved nation rather than unites it”.
“It is my duty to end my service and resign my mandate as president,” he told parliament.
Last week, Budapest’s Semmelweis University revoked Pal Schmitt’s 1992 award after finding that much of his thesis had been copied.
Hungarian President Pal Schmitt has announced his resignation, after being stripped of his doctorate over plagiarism
Pal Schmitt won gold medals for fencing at the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games.
He was elected to the largely ceremonial role of president for a five-year term, with strong backing from the conservative ruling Fidesz party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
The university said whole passages of his thesis about the modern Olympic Games had been copied from the work of two other academics.
Pal Schmitt denied wrongdoing and resisted calls for him to go, but on Saturday protesters in Budapest stepped up the pressure for him to resign.
The scandal comes at a sensitive time for the Fidesz government, whose news laws on the judiciary, media and central bank have proven highly controversial.
The European Commission and Euro MPs accuse Viktor Orban of limiting media freedom and the independence of the judiciary and central bank. The row has delayed financial help that Hungary desperately needs to ease its debt crisis.
Pal Schmitt served as Hungary’s ambassador to Spain in 1993-1997, and to Switzerland in 1999-2002.
He was Hungary’s fourth democratically elected president since the collapse of communism in 1989.
Pal Schmitt told parliament he would appeal against the decision which revoked his doctorate. He argues that only a court has the power to take such a decision.
Fidesz support for Pal Schmitt wavered from the very start of the plagiarism allegations.
A single comment from Viktor Orban’s spokesman Peter Szijjarto, that the allegations were “ridiculous”, was not followed up by the party as a whole.
When a committee of the Budapest Semmelweis University issued its 1,157-page report last week, Fidesz simply declared the matter “closed”, while the Christian Democrats (KDNP), their junior partner in government, issued a much more strident attack on the president’s critics, our correspondent says.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban would only say last Friday that the president should make up his own mind.
Normally pro-government newspapers have bristled with articles calling for Mr Schmitt’s resignation, though the same authors also pointed to the failure of former leftist leaders – notably ex-Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany – to resign, after admitting to lying in 2006.
On Sunday, the university rector Tivadar Tulassy stepped down, on the grounds that he had not received support from the relevant ministry. The university’s report was returned unopened by the minister.
The European Commission warns Hungary that it faces legal action if it fails to change reforms to its central bank, data protection and judiciary.
Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban was given a month to respond, Reuters news agency reports.
Critics say the new central bank law puts the bank’s independence at risk. It allows Viktor Orban to install a new deputy governor.
Viktor Orban’s conservative Fidesz party has a two-thirds majority in parliament.
The European Commission launched an “infringement procedure” against Hungary on Tuesday, the first stage of which is a warning calling for changes to the controversial laws.
“We do not want a shadow of doubt on respect for democratic principles and values to remain over the country any longer,” Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said.
There are fears that a new data protection authority will come under Fidesz influence and that a plan to make hundreds of judges retire early will undermine the judiciary’s independence by enabling new pro-Fidesz appointees to replace them.
The European Commission can go as far as imposing fines and taking Hungary to the European Court of Justice.
Thousands of Hungarians have demonstrated over what they see as Fidesz authoritarianism. A new media authority set up by Fidesz is also highly controversial.
The changes are part of a new constitution which took effect on 1 January.
Viktor Orban says the criticisms are politically motivated. He argues that partisan bickering has for too long handicapped Hungarian politics and that the last vestiges of communist influence need to be rooted out.
Correspondents say a compromise may be found because Hungary is struggling to service its debts and wants to reach a new deal with the EU and International Monetary Fund on a standby loan.
Hungary’s total debt has risen to 82% of its output, while its currency, the forint, has fallen to record lows against the euro.
The EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner, Olli Rehn, has already warned that Hungary could face a suspension of EU cohesion funds – support for regional projects.
Nearly a year ago a row between Hungary and the Commission was defused when Viktor Orban’s government agreed to amend the wording of the new media law, in the sections on balanced reporting, country of origin and media registration.
Over 30,000 people have been protesting in Budapest over Hungary’s controversial new constitution, a day after it came into force.
The country’s governing Fidesz party pushed the law through parliament in April after winning a two-thirds majority in parliamentary elections.
Opposition say the new constitution threatens democracy by removing checks and balances set up in 1989 when Communism fell.
The EU and U.S. had also asked for the law to be withdrawn.
The dispute has cast doubt over talks on a new financing agreement with the EU and IMF, seen as vital for market confidence in the central European country.
But the economic crisis facing Hungary overshadows both the government’s policies and the opposition protests.
Over 30,000 people have been protesting in Budapest over Hungary's controversial new constitution, a day after it came into force
Fidesz party won the elections promising to create a million workplaces – but there has been no growth so far.
As the public mood worsens, so do the country’s ratings, the chances of attracting foreign investment, and creating more jobs.
Several centre-left opposition parties joined in the protests, held near a gala event organized by the government to celebrate the new constitution.
Protesters chanted slogans denouncing the centre-right Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, and carried placards denouncing his “dictatorship” as officials arrived for the event.
“Viktor Orban and his servants turned Hungary from a promising place to the darkest spot in Europe,” said Socialist MP Tibor Szanyi, quoted by AFP news agency.
Aspects of the new constitution and accompanying laws which have come in for criticism include:
• A preamble committed to defending the intellectual and spiritual unity of the nation, which experts warn could be a future source of tension;
• The inclusion of social issues – like the rights of the unborn child, marriage between a man and a woman, and the definition of life sentences – which experts say should be left to ethical debates within society;
• The rewriting of the electoral system, in a way which opponents say favors Fidesz;
But Fidesz says the new constitution, or basic law, improves the legal framework of life in Hungary.
“Despite political debates we think it is an important value that for the first time, a freely elected parliament created the Basic Law,” said Fidesz MP Gergely Gulyas, quoted by the Reuters news agency.
Gergely Gulyas co-wrote the new law and shepherded it through parliament.
[googlead tip=”lista_medie” aliniat=”stanga”]The Romanian Hungarian ethnic who managed to escape after he was buried alive on Csepel Island in Budapest gave his first interview to Realitatea TV, one of the most important Romanian news channels.
“They tied my hands and legs and started digging and then buried me to the chest.”
Csepel Island, Budapest, where a Romanian was buried alived last week.
The young man was recounting the traumatizing experience he went through on the Csepel Island: how he managed to get out of the grave and run away, full of mud and blood, from the place were several people had been killed for money, according to Realitatea TV website, realitatea.net. Six people were already arrested in the case.
The young man was brutally beaten up and buried after his hands were tied behind his back.
“They tied a rope around my neck and then I lost consciousness. I came to for a few moments. I knew and I felt I was going to die, I passed out several times. In the meantime, one of them kicked me on and on and told me to take everything out of my pockets. I gave them the bank card, I didn’t want to die for 60,000 forint (220 Euro). I couldn’t even feel pain because all my strength was focused on keeping the rope away from my neck. Then they tied my hands and legs and started digging and then buried me to the chest. I was in panic, I started crying, I was in a lot of pain,”
said the Romanian.
[googlead tip=”vertical_mediu” aliniat=”dreapta”] The young man, who has a double citizenship, Romanian and Hungarian, is living in Hungary since 2003.
The group leader seems to be a Macedonian man, who was hiring homeless people to help him bury people alive and obtain their bank cards information.
The Macedonian has been living locally and befriended his victim several weeks before the attack.
The survivor of the Csepel attack said he had been lured into the woods by the alleged killer to drink beer with a couple who lived there. After several drinks they set upon him, bound his hands and forced him to crouch in a hole before burying him up to his neck. They stole his valuables and made him reveal his bank card code.
After he was left by the assailants, who went to withdraw money from his card, the Romanian managed to get out and even if he was attacked by specially trained dogs, he survived and alerted the police.
The Macedonian and homeless couple who attacked the Romanian were arrested and other members of the group are being sought.
Four bodies were found on Csepel Island but police think there could be more.
The Macedonian admitted the killings and led police to a place deep in the woods, where they discovered the remains of four bodies buried in a large pit, Hungarian police were quoted as saying.
The Macedonian admitted the killings and led police to a place deep in the woods on Csepel Island, where they discovered the remains of four bodies buried in a large pit.
One media outlet reported that the alleged murderer was a former member of the Serb paramilitary group run by the late warlord Zeljko “Arkan” Raznatovic, which was notorious for its brutality during the 1990’s Yugoslav wars.[googlead tip=”patrat_mic” aliniat=”dreapta”]
Last weekend, horrible news went around the globe. A Romanian man, Hungarian ethnic, recounted that he was buried alive by three aggressors on the Danube’s Csepel Island near Budapest. After he hardly managed to escape from the scene of horrors, he went to the police. Furthermore, the Hungarian police found four bodies buried on the island, guided there by the Romanian. The man said the attackers forced him to give them his bank card PIN code. The Romanian managed to run and ended up near Francai Obol (Frenchman Bay) area, where nobody believed him and nobody wanted to help. The police eventually went to the scene, found the bodies, and run the investigations.
[googlead tip=”lista_mica” aliniat=”stanga”]Police unearthed four bodies of suspected murder victims in a wooded area of Budapest’s Csepel Island.
Budapest, Hungary. Police unearthed four bodies of suspected murder victims in a wooded area of Budapest’s Csepel Island, according to a Friday statement of the Hungarian National Bureau of Investigations (NNI).
Hungarian police unearthed four bodies of suspected murder victims in a wooded area of Csepel Island
A Hungarian couple and a Serb national were reported to be in connection with the murders, based on the declarations of a victim who managed to escape. The victims were thought to be buried from the neck down on the Danube’s Csepel Island in order to give their cards PIN codes to the assailants.
Laszlo Bartha, a NNI’ spokesman said that for the moment police did not wish to confirm the number of suspects.
The NNI’ statement said that the precise cause and time of death, as well as the circumstances were being examined by forensic medical experts.
The NNI statement also said the police launched a murder investigation and would not reveal any further details for the time being.
[googlead tip=”vertical_mediu” aliniat=”dreapta”] A correspondent of a Hungarian newspaper, Magyar Nemzet, talked to a young Hungarian ethnic from Romania, who had narrowly escaped to be killed after being buried from the neck down in a hole in the ground.
The victim said the Serbian man, whom he knew, invited him for a beer with friends – a homeless couple in the woods – last week. He said the three suspects attacked him when he arrived, strangling him and demanding to give them his credit card and PIN code. After telling them the code, the suspects went to withdraw money from ATM, leaving their victim buried in the ground with his hands tied behind his back.
The victim said that after managing to break free and after fending off the dog his captors had left behind, he went back to his lodgings in Csepel and alerted the police. On his way home, the young man appealed to several people for help but nobody was willing to give the first aid to a man, who was bleeding and covered in mud.
According to Hungarian press reports, the police arrested the Serbian suspect within 24 hours, but did not make the arrest public before the suspect made a confession.
“So far, six individuals are into preliminary custody in connection with the bodies unearthed on Budapest’s Csepel Island few days ago,” a Hungarian National Bureau of Investigations official, Zoltan Csizner said in Budapest on Saturday during a press conference.
“The suspected ringleader, who was also arrested, claimed to be a Macedonian citizen, but there were no available documents to prove his nationality,” Zoltan Csizner told at press conference. Citing the interests of investigation, he told reporters not to ask any questions.[googlead tip=”patrat_mic” aliniat=”dreapta”]
“The four bodies still remain unidentified and the circumstances of their death are being examined by forensic experts,” he said.
Csizner did not rule out that the six suspects taken into police custody now are belonging to a Csepel homeless gang whose three members were arrested in spring under the suspicion of armed robberies and whose clapboard dwellings were close to the site of the unearthed bodies.
Six individuals are into preliminary custody in connection with the bodies unearthed on Budapest's Csepel Island
The Macedonian Foreign Ministry said on Friday there is no notification from the Hungarian authorities regarding the arrest of any Macedonian citizen in connection with the murders.
Police suspects that the series of murders happened over a period of several months without the knowledge of the authorities due to the peripheral lifestyle of the homeless people, which went beyond the bounds of social or police control.