Balkans struggling under burden of refugees

The 17-point action plan for countering chaos on the Balkan route agreed on in Brussels on Monday by the affected states continues to elicit strong reactions. The region could be destabilised and human trafficking could increase, some commentators warn. Others point out that the key to solving the refugee crisis lies in Syria.

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Der Standard (AT) /

Southeast Europe can't cope

The refugee crisis poses a threat to the already fragile stability in Southeast Europe, the centre-left daily Der Standard warns: "The relations within the region have worsened since the refugee crisis began. Slovenia is planning a border fence and could soon put the plan into action. However, it would be very dangerous to close the borders from above - in other words beginning with Slovenia or Croatia. That would put Serbia, Macedonia and Greece in an uncontrollable situation. Because then the refugees - who simply want to get to Germany as quickly as possible - would be stuck. The lesser evil would be a strengthening of the right-wing political parties there. But there are far greater dangers. These countries' inability to cope with the situation could lead to political abuses, violence and rampant insecurity. Macedonia and Serbia are not just poorer than Greece, they are also less stable. The security structures there can't cope with major crisis."

Trud (BG) /

Mafia just waiting to capitalise on refugees

In view of the EU's plans to build up a buffer zone for refugees on the Balkans a return of the smuggling gangs that emerged during the Yugoslav wars is to be feared, explains the daily newspaper Trud: "The collapse of Yugoslavia and the ensuing eight-year Yugoslavia embargo (1991-1999) led back then to the worst crisis Bulgaria has experienced since the end of communism. The criminal groups exploited the situation and raked in huge profits smuggling goods and people. And the police and secret service apparatus backed them in a big way. … The current situation provides the conditions for a similar trend, particularly since we once again live in a police state in which the people are completely impoverished. In the context of the never-ending refugee crisis it's easy to imagine where this will lead."

Kurir (RS) /

Global perspectives: Croatia's disgraceful conduct on its borders

According to news reports, Croatian police officers attacked journalists who illegally entered the country from Serbia with a group of refugees. Croatia still needs to learn European manners, the Serbian tabloid Kurir writes: "[Croatian] Prime Minister Zoran Milanović was at a loss for ideas, and went as far as comparing Serbia - which had shown the refugees more humanity than any other European state - with a fly [and Croatia with an eagle]. After that he recommended that Serbia send the refugees to other countries, and finally closed the border with Serbia. After running out of insults and senseless undertakings, the youngest EU member is now swinging its fists. ... This all goes to show that while it has fulfilled the bureaucratic requirements for EU membership, Croatia has yet to learn how to act in a humane way. Unfortunately, at our own expense."

The Irish Times (IE) /

Secure zone in Syria would slow exodus

The flood of migrants from Syrian areas afflicted by civil war will only slow if the EU can protect and care for war refugees inside Syria, the centre-left daily The Irish Times argues: "Clearly, it is the EU's intention that the next wave of refugees to flee Syria will be accommodated within Turkey's borders rather than arriving on European shores. In the absence of a Safe Zone inside Syria, Turkey may be unable to prevent such a refugee wave from entering, and subsequently exiting to Europe. Protecting those millions of civilians inside Syria, or finding somewhere acceptable for them to go outside of Syria, is the challenge that awaits. The alternative could mean rounding the death toll up to a million."