Hungary's prime minister wants to build a new wall along parts of his country's frontier with Croatia. Hungary has already erected a razor-wire fence along its Serbian border to block migrants trying to enter the EU.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said more barriers were needed because people smugglers prevented from crossing the now-blocked Serbian border would simply take a different path to bring migrants into the European Union.
"Since they can no longer pass through Hungary, they will change route and go through Romania, probably," he said in an interview published Thursday by Germany's "Die Welt" and France's "Le Figaro."
"That's why we also decided to build a fence at the Romanian border, along the Mures River. And we will probably build another along the Croatian border. We are following their trail," he added.
Hungary completed a controversial barbed-wire fence on its border with Serbia on Tuesday in a bid to keep new arrivals out. It also implemented tough new immigration laws, which carry three-year jail sentences for anyone entering the country illegally.
"The fact is the migrants keep coming. We managed to stop them at the Hungarian border, but this did not stop the influx itself," Orban said in the interview.
Serbia's border with Hungary has until this week been a main EU entry point for migrants fleeing conflict in the Middle East and Africa. More than 200,000 have entered the country this year.
With Serbia's border with Hungary effectively blocked off, many refugees have now opted for a more arduous journey through Croatia in a bid to reach Germany and other western European countries. The Croatian government has pledged to allow asylum seekers free passage through its borders. Croatian television reported that around 4,000 migrants had entered the country in the past 24 hours.
Violence at the border
Meanwhile, clashes broke out Wednesday between refugees and riot police at the Serbian-Hungarian border, drawing international condemnation. Some migrants desperate to cross into the country hurled stones, while officers responded with tear gas and water cannons. At least two people were injured and dozens of others needed medical attention.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his "shock" at the violence, saying the behavior of the Hungarian police was unacceptable. He reminded the global community that "people facing barrel bombs and brutality in their country will continue to seek life in another."
Serbia lodged a formal protest with Hungary over the use of tear gas on its territory, and Prime Minister Aleksander Vucic decried the "brutal" police behavior.
"I call on the European Union to react, for its members to behave in line with European values," Vucic told Serbian state media.
Hungarian authorities defended the measures, saying "we will employ all legal means to protect Hungary's border's security." They said they had arrested more than 500 migrants who tried to cross the border illegally, including a "terrorist."
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nm/jil (AFP, AP, Reuters)