BUDAPEST, Hungary – Hungary announced Friday that it has nearly completed a fence being built on the border with Croatia, as the central European nation takes another step to slam the door on the flow of migrants seeking refuge in other parts of Europe.
Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said on state radio that Hungary doesn't want to close the border, but wants "to protect the border of the European Union." He said the possibility of legal entry would be left open.
The prospect of another fence blocking the flow of migrants seeking refuge in northern Europe will insert more confusion into an already chaotic situation in the Balkans. Some 59,000 asylum-seekers have entered Croatia since Hungary shut its border with Serbia Sept. 15.
"There is no wall, no wire that can stop the people," Croatia's Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic said while visiting the Opatovac transit center in Croatia.
But closing the Hungarian border with Croatia will raise another obstacle, and at a minimum slow the traffic, and potentially strand more of the people transiting the Balkans while seeking sanctuary from conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
There is some urgency in keeping people moving as the weather begins to turn colder. Rain soaked the border areas Friday, adding misery to a long journey.
Hungary has also installed spools of razor wire near a border crossing with Slovenia, which like Hungary is part of the EU's Schengen zone of passport-free travel.
Kovacs said they are meant to "block direct detours" by migrants who may attempt to circumvent the fences on the Serbian and Croatian borders to reach Germany and other countries in Western Europe.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban was in Vienna on Friday meeting with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann and other officials to discuss the migration crisis.