Austria building fence along parts of border with Slovenia

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, October 28, 2015

VIENNA — Austria, a strong critic of building of fences to keep out migrants, announced plans Wednesday to erect barriers along parts of its own border, but insisted the move was meant solely to bring order into the flow of people entering the country.

Slovenia, the main migrant entry point into Austria, also said it was ready to build a fence, threatening to set off a chain reaction from other countries along the land route used by those seeking a better life in prosperous EU nations.

Germany, the country of choice of many of the people fleeing regions torn by war and hardship, moved as well to reduce the migrant load. Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere announced that, while Syrian citizens are mostly accepted, many of the Afghans pouring into the country will likely be sent back to their homeland.

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In Austria, Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told parliament that construction of “technical barriers” would begin after about 10 days of planning but gave no exact date for the start of work on the project.

In separate comments to state broadcaster ORF, she spoke of the need for a “fence” to maintain public order. Defense Minister Gerald Klug said containers or railings could be set up to “be able to control the refugees in an orderly way.”

Mikl-Leitner insisted that there were no plans “to build a fence around Austria.” Still the project is likely to run into domestic and international criticism for the signal it sends to other nations struggling to cope with the migrant influx and because of associations with the razor-wire fence Hungary has built to keep migrants out — a move Austria strongly criticized.