Hungary, Slovenia urge fencing off of Greece to keep migrants out

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Migrants and refugees line up to receive food as they wait to cross the border from Greece to Macedonia near Idomeni, on January 21, 2016

Migrants and refugees line up to receive food as they wait to cross the border from Greece to Macedonia near Idomeni, on January 21, 2016 (AFP Photo/Sakis Mitrolidis)

Brdo castle (Kranj) (Slovenia) (AFP) - Hungary and Slovenia on Friday urged the erection of a fence along Greece's northern border, effectively sealing off the EU's passport-free Schengen area to migrants seeking to enter the bloc via the western Balkans.

Both countries criticised Greece -- the asylum-seekers' first entry point into the bloc after crossing from Turkey -- for failing to protect its sea borders.

"Just complaining that Greece is not protecting its borders isn't enough," Hungary's right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban said at a joint news conference with Slovenian counterpart Miro Cerar.

"We should take a man's stance and say we expect a fence to be built on the Macedonian and Bulgarian border with Greece and stop the migrant wave," said Orban.

The two leaders held talks Friday at Brdo Castle, some 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) northwest of the capital, Ljubljana.

Cerar warned that Europe faced "conflicts and disintegration" if the EU failed to find a solution for the migrant crisis before the flow picked up again with the onset of spring and warmer weather.

"We have no time, we can't wait until the spring. Millions of people are waiting on the borders to enter the EU as migrants, and that figure will increase to tens of millions," the centrist Slovenian leader said.

"If we aren't able to find an efficient solution for Greece (on its southern sea borders), we need to do something immediately where that could be effective (on the Macedonian border with Greece)," Cerar said.

More than one million migrants and refugees made the perilous journey by sea to Europe in 2015, the majority fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

With most crossing the Mediterranean from Turkey to Greece, they then travel overland through Macedonia and Serbia to reach EU countries.

Very few try to enter the bloc via Greece's frontier with EU member Bulgaria.

With the crisis showing no signs of abating, Macedonia has already fenced off several kilometres along its 250 kilometre (155 mile) Greek border and imposed stricter entry controls.

Hungary's response to the influx was to seal off its southern borders with barbed wire to migrants in autumn last year.

This diverted the flow to Slovenia, a tiny state of two-million people, which is now a key transit country for migrants heading for Austria and Germany.