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EU 'urgently' seeks answers from Croatia on Serbia row

25 September 2015, 20:01 CET
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(BRUSSELS) - The EU demanded Friday urgent clarification from Croatia of border restrictions with neighbouring Serbia as the two countries traded charges over who was at fault in handling a massive influx of refugees.

"We are urgently seeking clarifications from the Croatian authorities," a European Commission spokeswoman told reporters when asked about Zagreb's decision to block trucks from EU aspirant Serbia as it tried to pressure Belgrade to redirect migrants back towards Hungary.

Shortly after the comments, Croatia said it was planning to remove the restrictions "today or tomorrow".

EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini had telephoned the Serbian and Croatian premiers Friday to urge them to take "a constructive approach", spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said.

Serbia wrote to Brussels earlier this week to complain that the Croatian restrictions breached the terms of the Stability and Association Agreement (SAA) which Belgrade signed in 2013 as the first step towards joining the 28-nation bloc.

Kocijancic said an initial assessment of whether the curbs complied with the pact "raises some serious issues."

As the migrant crisis has deepened with hundreds of thousands of people trying to get into the EU via, Hungary closed its border with Serbia in an effort to halt the influx.

The refugees, mostly Syrians, who are determined to continue north so as to get to Germany, simply turned west into Serbia which directed them onwards to Croatia.

After initially offering a warm welcome, Croatia said it could no longer cope with the influx and closed the crossing points on its border with Serbia.

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