Oct 8, 2015 4:13 PM
The Latest: Czechs to boost migrant checks on Austria border
The Associated Press
LUXEMBOURG (AP) The latest developments as hundreds of thousands of people seeking safety make an epic trek through Europe. All times local.
The Czech Republic is planning to further boost its police presence on the border with Austria to be able to deal with a possible influx of migrants.
After the Czechs beefed up security on the Austrian-Czech border on Sept. 13 in response to Germany's decision to restore border controls, they have been making random controls at 14 border crossings.
Interior Ministry spokeswoman Lucie Novakova says that such measures will be done on all 20 crossings, starting Saturday.
The ministry insisted Thursday the Czechs aren't restoring border controls, at least for now.
But it says if neighboring Austria closes its border, the Czechs would react with further security measures, including canceling some international trains.
Czech territory is so far rarely used by the migrants on their way to Germany and other rich Western countries compared with the Balkans, Hungary and Austria.
Police in Berlin have issued a public appeal for information about the whereabouts of a 4-year-old Bosnian migrant child and an unidentified man who may have abducted him.
Mohamed Januzi was last seen leaving the central registration center for migrants in Berlin with the man on Thursday afternoon.
Police in the German capital said it was unclear how Mohamed became separated from his mother and siblings, but that a crime couldn't be ruled out.
Spokeswoman Patricia Braemer said the state police's homicide division has taken up the case.
The man was described as being of central European appearance, aged 35 to 50, with a slender build, dark hair and a beard.
Police published photos and video of Mohamed and the man on their website.
A U.N. official says a wish expressed by some European countries or communities to accept only Christians fleeing war in countries such as Syria could be very "dangerous" because it would lead to divisiveness and breed hostility toward anyone deemed as not belonging there.
Heiner Bielefeldt, a U.N. special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, says equating religion with territory could lead to a kind of "religious cleansing" where long-time inhabitants of a country who aren't adherents to the dominant religion could be labelled as "outsiders at best."
He says that could, in turn, plant "the seed of violence" and ultimately undermine the messages of peace that religion aims to transmit.
Bielefeldt was speaking Thursday after the end of a regional conference on ways of preventing religious violence.
The governor of Bavaria says his government is considering "self-defense measures" in response to the influx of migrants across the German border.
Horst Seehofer told German daily Bild that the state government will agree on a wide-ranging package of measures Friday that includes "integration, education and training."
Bild quoted him saying Thursday that "this explicitly also includes self-defense measures to restrict immigration, such as turning people back at the border with Austria and immediately sending asylum seekers elsewhere in Germany."
Seehofer's office confirmed the accuracy of the quotes.
Any move to close the German border to migrants would require authorization from federal authorities in Berlin.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she doesn't support limiting the number of asylum seekers coming to Germany.
Slovakia is following the Czech Republic in offering Hungary police officers to help protect the external border of the European Union and Europe's visa-free Schengen zone.
Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak announced Tuesday in Luxembourg his country can send 50 officers to Hungary.
Kalinak was attending a meeting of interior ministers of all EU countries.
His announcement came hours after his Czech counterpart, Milan Chovanec, said his country is ready to dispatch 50 police officers and up to 100 soldiers in Hungary.
He said Poland is also considering possible help.
The four EU countries form an informal grouping known as V4.
The U.N. Security Council will vote Friday morning on a resolution that would authorize the European Union and individual countries to board and seize vessels on the high seas off Libya being used to smuggle migrants or for human trafficking to Europe.
France's U.N. Ambassador, Francois Delattre, confirmed the timing of the vote.
Security Council members had until Thursday morning to raise objections to the final draft but none did.
The draft says the resolution's intention is to disrupt "organized criminal enterprises engaged in migrant smuggling and human trafficking and prevent loss of life"
It says disposal of seized vessels must be taken in accordance with international law "with due consideration of the interests of any third parties who have acted in good faith."
The Hungarian government has authorized allowing troops from countries in the European Union or NATO to help defend the country's borders in the midst of the migrant crisis.
A government decree published Thursday says up to 1,000 troops from Hungary's allies can take part until March 15 in the "Common Will" operation of border defense. Their tasks may include participating in joint exercises as well as direct support of the Hungarian troops on the border. Some 4,700 Hungarian soldiers are now at the country's southern borders with Serbia and Croatia.
Zsolt Nemeth, head of Parliament's foreign relations committee, saw nothing unusual about EU countries sending troops to guard a border with another EU country, even if Croatia is not in the EU's Schengen zone of passport-free travel.
"The EU has to be able to defend border sections which some countries can't protect from migrants," Nemeth said earlier this week in an interview with The Associated Press.
Over 330,000 migrants have entered Hungary this year.
The European Union has committed to speeding up and intensifying the deportation of people who do not qualify for asylum.
A statement of the meetings said: "Increased return rates should act as a deterrent to irregular migration."
A meeting of EU interior ministers agreed that the Frontex border agency set would start the organization of return flights and promised more staff for the organization to deal with the crisis.
It said detention could be used as a measure of last resort to make sure failed applicants actually go back and insisted enough pre-departure detention centers should be available.
At the same time most member states backed proposals to reinforce the EU's porous external borders.
The European Union has earmarked more than 400 million euros ($451 million) in additional funding to tackle the refugee emergency.
Most of the money 300 million euros will be used to help Syrian refugees in countries outside the EU, including Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.
It will also fund the creation of 120 jobs in the three key European agencies working on the migration frontline; the Frontex border agency, the EASO asylum support office and the policy agency Europol.
Some 56 million euros will be devoted to humanitarian aid. ___
Police in southern Sweden say they have removed an illegal tent camp that stateless Palestinians set up in early August outside the Swedish Immigration Agency to protest against the rejection of their asylum applications.
Ewa-Gun Westford, police spokeswoman in Malmo, says the protesters are welcome to stay but their tents have been removed.
She said Thursday's action came after Sweden's third- largest city on Sept. 22 banned the camp housing some 100 people on public property.
Westford said three people were arrested for violence against civil servants and refusing to obey police orders. It was not immediately clear whether they would be charged.
France is proposing to beef up the European Union's external borders by committing member states to contribute more personnel to the EU's border agency and eventually setting up a largely autonomous international "corps" that could intervene wherever a crisis appears.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve made the proposal to his EU counterparts at Thursday's meeting in Luxembourg. French officials said it would be developed by EU leaders at next week's summit.
The EU is struggling to contain a migrant crisis which has exposed huge weaknesses in both cooperation and manpower as hundreds of thousands have entered the continent fleeing war and seeking a better life.
French officials, who spoke under the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said that in the short term, member states would be obliged to contribute more personnel to the Frontex border agency based on their population, wealth and other criteria.
In the long term, France proposes a multinational European border guard corps which would have much more autonomy to act along the EU's external frontiers when crises appear.
The Czech Republic is ready to dispatch 50 police officers and up to 100 soldiers in Hungary to help protect the external border of the European Union and Europe's visa-free Schengen zone.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec says he offered that at a meeting of interior ministers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia in Luxembourg Thursday ahead of a meeting of interior ministers of all EU countries.
Chovanec says Slovakia is also likely offer officers while Poland is considering a possible help.
Over 324,000 migrants and refugees entered Hungary, which has built fences on its southern borders with Serbia and Croatia in an attempt to control their flow.
The Czech government already agreed to dispatch 25 soldiers on the Hungarian border with Croatia to help protect the Schengen border.
More than any other topic, Austria's stance toward refugees is determining Sunday's race for Vienna's city hall, pitting voters who welcome them against those who fear that a surge of immigrants threatens their own well-being.
Only a fraction of the nearly 200,000 people who crossed into this country last month stayed, with most traveling on to Germany. Still, the Interior Ministry counted over 46,000 requests for refugee status by the end of August, compared to around 28,000 for all of 2014.
A pro-migrant demonstration Saturday brought over 100,000 people to Vienna. But the asylum numbers and the nightly newscasts showing masses of people entering Austria have increased support for the Freedom Party, which believes immigration threatens traditional Austrian values and hurts an already shrinking job market.
Vienna would be a key prize for the Freedom Party, since the city has been governed for 60 years by the Socialists, alone or as the dominant coalition partner.
Romania's president says the influx of refugees could spark a resurgence of racism in Europe which he says countries have a duty to reject.
President Klaus Iohannis spoke Thursday at an event to commemorate the Holocaust. Between 1940 and 1944, about 280,000 Jews and 11,000 Roma, or Gypsies, were killed during the pro-fascist regime of Romanian dictator Marshal Ion Antonescu.
Romania was one of four eastern European countries to oppose a European Union resettlement plan for 120,000 asylum-seekers but has since modified its stance.
Iohannis reasserted that Romania could overcome "this complicated situation" with refugees "and easily cope with it."