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Balkan countries threaten to close borders if Germany does
October 24, 2015 / 11:04 AM / 2 years ago

Balkan countries threaten to close borders if Germany does

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania said on Saturday they would close their borders if Germany or other countries do the same to stop refugees coming in, warning they would not allow the Balkan region to become a buffer zone for stranded migrants.

Migrants sleep under a bridge near Belgrade's main bus and train station, in Serbia July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Marko Djurica/Files

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borisov announced the decision after meeting his Serbian and Romanian counterparts in the capital Sofia ahead of a planned summit of European Union leaders on Sunday.

“The three countries, we are standing ready, if Germany and Austria close their borders, not to allow our countries to become buffer zones. We will be ready to close borders,” Borisov told reporters.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has called an extraordinary meeting of some European leaders on Sunday to tackle the migrant crisis in the western Balkans where thousands trying to reach Germany are trapped in deteriorating conditions.

The Commission said in a statement on Wednesday that Juncker had invited the heads of state or government of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia, plus key organisations involved.

The mini-summit’s aim was to agree “common operational conclusions which could be immediately implemented”.

It comes as crowds of refugees and other migrants camp by roads in western Balkan countries in worsening autumn weather after Hungary sealed its borders with Serbia and Croatia, causing a chain reaction in other overwhelmed states.

Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Matthias Williams and Catherine Evans

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