The Latest: Hungary's Jobbik wants referendum on EU quotas
Nov. 18, 2015
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The latest news as hundreds of thousands make their way across Europe in search of safety and a better life. All times local.
Hungary's far-right Jobbik party rejected the European Union's mandatory quota plan to distribute refugees among its member countries and called for a national referendum on the issue.
Speaking Wednesday at a rally of a few hundred supporters outside the EU representative office in Budapest, Jobbik president Gabor Vona said Hungary couldn't afford to wait until German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker "come to their senses" and recognize that what they have done so far regarding the migrant issue is "horrific."
Vona said "immigration and terrorism unfortunately go hand in hand."
The Hungarian government announced Tuesday that it would file a lawsuit against the quota plan by Dec. 15 and the governing Fidesz party has also launched a petition to gather citizens' signatures against the initiative.
Poland's new deputy foreign minister says the problem with accepting refugees lies in the fact that the system is abused by ill-intentioned people.
Konrad Szymanski was asked Wednesday to explain his earlier statements barring refugees from Poland, unless they prove they pose no danger. That remark angered some European Union officials as going back on the previous government's decision to take in about 7,000 refugees.
Szymanski said "it is not the refugees who are the problem. They are owed our solidarity and humanitarian responsibility. The problem is that ill-intentioned people are abusing the system through which the refugees are received."
He said Europe needs an efficient system of identifying the arrivals from a security standpoint.
Swiss security officials are considering sending troops to support border guards in the wake of the Paris attacks — and the country's migration agency is passing all files on those coming in from Syria and other war-torn countries to the Swiss intelligence agency NDB.
Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga says authorities have already taken measures to tighten security, including stepping up patrols at railway stations and at borders. She told reporters in Bern on Wednesday that while the current situation doesn't merit such a step, the army could be deployed if the threat level increases.
Sommaruga said while it would be wrong to be suspicious of all refugees, there was "evidence that criminals are using migrant flows to get to Europe."
Turkey and Greece have agreed to cooperate to prevent the "human tragedy" suffered by thousands of migrants who risk lives crossing the Aegean Sea on their way to Europe.
Prime Ministers Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey and Alexis Tsipras of Greece said, however, that the refugee burden can't be placed on the two countries' shoulders alone, insisting that other European nations share the responsibility.
The two leaders were speaking at a news conference in the Turkish capital following talks.
The countries would engage in regular contracts through a bilateral technical mechanism, Davutoglu said. Coast Guard chiefs from Turkey and Greece were also in consultation.
Davutoglu said: "Europe should not place the burden on the backs of Greece and Turkey...Turkey and Greece are victims of this problem just as the refugees are."
A scrapyard and recycling company in Norway's remote Arctic region says it has been asked to destroy about 3,500 bicycles used by refugees to enter Norway from Russia at the crossing closed to pedestrians.
Mastenes Gjenvinning manager Rune Larsen says the bikes, of which he estimates 90 percent are new, must be destroyed because they don't meet Norwegian bicycle standards. He couldn't say how the bicycles, purchased in Russia, violate Norwegian rules.
Larsen said Wednesday that police earlier this month had asked them to take care of 25-30 containers with bikes weighting about 50 tons all together.
Norway says more than 3,600 asylum-seekers — mostly Syrians — this year have rode across the border at Storskog, the only crossing between Norway and Russia. Once in Norway, most of the refugees ditch the bikes.
Some Republicans are pushing back against their party's opposition to Syrian refugees resettling in the U.S. — a rift that threatens to complicate the party's outreach to minorities heading into the 2016 presidential vote.
These Republicans have joined Democrats, who liken the refugee backlash to the U.S. government turning away Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and placing Japanese in internment camps during World War II.
While conservatives cite security concerns following the Paris attacks, others in the party fear the party's position on refugees reeks of xenophobia. Alfonso Aguilar, a Republican who leads the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, says "a refugee is someone who has a credible fear that they're going to be killed."
Aguilar says moderate voters could view Republican opposition to helping refugees as extreme and intolerant and that could hurt Republican candidates in next fall's general election.
Spain's coast guard says at least one person died when a boat capsized off the western coast of Africa while trying to take sub-Saharan Africans to the Canary Islands and that a search is underway to try to find at least 17 missing people.
A coast guard spokeswoman says the search Wednesday was taking place after 22 men from the boat were rescued Tuesday evening after it capsized near Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony.
Searchers found the body about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Western Sahara and 237 kilometers (147 miles) from the Canary Islands.
Survivors told authorities there were 40 or more people aboard when the boat capsized.
The spokeswoman spoke on condition of anonymity because of department rules preventing her from being named.
— By Alan Clendenning in Madrid.
Turkey's state-run media says rescuers are searching for 10 migrants who are reported missing after a boat sank on its way to Greece.
The Anadolu Agency says five Syrians were rescued Wednesday off the Aegean coast of Bodrum — the main crossing point for the Greek island of Kos.
A coast guard aircraft was also dispatched to the area to search for the missing from the air.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is in Turkey on Wednesday for talks with Turkey's leaders on ways to stem the flow of migrants from Turkey into Greece and battle human smuggling.
Jordan's king says the fight against terror and the migrant crisis are interlinked and must be tackled both by Europe and Mideast nations.
In a commentary Wednesday in Austria's Der Standard newspaper, King Abdullah II describes the fight against terror as "a global war we should fight together as one."
He also asks for support for countries like Jordan and Lebanon, which are suffering economically and socially by shouldering a massive burden of millions of refugees from Syria. He says jobs, education, health and peace are essential for a "future that will enhance stability and security for both our regions."
The king is visiting Austria.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is meeting Turkish leaders for talks centering on stemming the flow of migrants crossing from Turkey into Greece.
The talks Wednesday come as Greek authorities are struggling with the influx of refugees and economic migrants reaching Greek islands from Turkey. The discussions have gained added urgency over indications that one of the Paris attackers may have passed through Greece in October.
More than 600,000 people have reached Greece so far this year. Hundreds died when their overloaded boats sank or capsized.
On Tuesday, Tsipras and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu watched a soccer match between their countries' national teams, marred by Turkish fans' booing of the Greek national anthem and of a minute of silence in remembrance of the Paris victims.