Hungary’s PM urges building of fence on Bulgarian, Macedonian borders with Greece

Refugees line up as they wait to cross the Greek-Macedonian border. © Alexandros Avramidis
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called for the creation of a fence along the Macedonian and Bulgarian borders with Greece to curb the influx of refugees. In the previous year, similar fences popped up on Hungary’s borders with Serbia and Croatia.

"If we cannot secure the outer border [of the EU], regardless of how costly or demanding that is, we will destroy the Schengen regime by ourselves,” Orban said when speaking during his visit to Slovenia on Friday.

Orban said that Hungary had already exported rolls of razor-wire material to Slovenian, Macedonian and Bulgarian borders to handle the flow of migrants and refugees coming from the Middle East and Africa.

Earlier Hungarian FM Peter Szijjarto warned that Greece was incapable of protecting its borders from the influx. He said that Hungary may request help from Bulgaria and Macedonia if Athens keeps on letting migrants to enter the country.

"If Greece is not willing to take part in this solution ... we need the Bulgarians and Macedonians to talk to," Hungary’s FM Peter Szijjarto said on Tuesday.

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras told that EU needs to come up with specific steps to deal with the migrant crisis and a well-thought-out relocation plan.

“We need more Europe,” he told at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort of Davos this week.

Last month the EU’s border agency, Frontex, promised it would increase its presence in Greece. The EU planned to replace Frontex by creating a rapid reaction force, consisting of 1500 members.

"If it were not tragic I would laugh when I hear European officials speaking about hundreds of Frontex officers being the solution – it's not the case," Szijjarto said to that adding that, if needed, Hungary could erect a fence on the Romanian border in the shortest terms possible.

"If we have to build a fence there, we are ready from the next day," he said.
European continues are going through the worst migrant crisis since World War II, with the number of new arrivals expected to increase this year to 4 million by the end of 2017, according to the International Monetary Fund.

In 2015, over one million refugees arrived in the European Union, the International Organization for Migration reported. Most of the asylum seekers came from Syria, where a civil war has claimed the lives of 250,000 people and displaced 12 million others since 2011, according to UN figures, but also from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Eritrea, Mali and other countries.

EU members have been taking various measures to handle the crisis. Last year, Hungary built fences along the Serbian and Croatian borders to limit the refugee flood after the government estimated that more than 1,500 illegal migrants were arriving in the country every day. The move was denounced by the EU and the UN refugee agency.

Hungary’s suit was followed by Slovenia and Austria who also erected fences of their own to relieve the migrant pressure at their borders.

At the beginning of January, Denmark stepped up border controls on the German border and Sweden extended identity checks on all travelers. Sweden said it was refusing entry to people without any photo identification.

Austria has recently employed army troops to stop the incoming migrants from transiting through Germany and not apply for asylum there. Macedonia has closed its border with Greece to migrants upon a request from Slovenia.

The president of the European Council has warned that Europe has “no more than two months” to get the refugee crisis under control, otherwise the borderless Schengen zone may collapse. Just in the previous week Austria's chancellor, Werner Faymann, announced that the country had “temporarily canceled” its adherence to the Schengen agreement.

Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, has also warned that the EU has “six to eight weeks” to save the Schengen system of border-free travel. He feared that due to improved weather conditions the rate of crossings will quadruple.