As thousands of refugees and migrants pour into Europe day after day, more EU countries are threatening to put up barriers to control the inflow, dealing a blow to the EU’s passport-free Schengen zone.
Austria said on Wednesday (October 28) it planned to secure its border with Slovenia, while Slovenia said it might close its border with Croatia — like Hungary did earlier this month.
“Let me stress that Slovenia does not want walls,” said its Prime Minister Miro Cerar. “We don’t want walls between European countries. But if Slovenia is forced to, it’s ready to start erecting barriers tomorrow at its border with Croatia, and to direct migrants to crossing points to make the situation more manageable.”
EU leaders agreed on Sunday to send police backup to Slovenia to help it manage the flow. Over the past 10 days, almost 90,000 people have poured through this tiny Alpine country with just 2 million inhabitants.
“What we have to do is to cope with the situation right now jointly and we had now in Brussels a successful meeting with 17 points which we have to implement, that’s why the first policemen came today and others will come the next days from other European countries to join hands, to have a secure situation,” said Anna Elisabeth Prinz, German ambassador to Slovenia.
Slovenia has become a major transit point for refugees since Hungary sealed off its border with Croatia earlier this month, pushing the wave westwards.
From the Slovenian-Croatian border, the migrants reach Austria by train. Most hope to continue their journey onto Western or Northern Europe.