Greece Furious Over Schengen Suspension Plans

10/09/2015_Macedonia Refugees
Migrants and refugees beg Macedonian policemen to allow them across the border from Greece. European leaders have threatened to effectively exclude Greece from the Schengen zone. Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

Greece has responded furiously to proposals to modify the Schengen agreement which would see the country's borders effectively sealed off from the rest of the continent.

EU interior ministers meeting in Amsterdam on Monday discussed moving the southern frontier of the passport-free travel zone, which includes most of the EU, to the north, deploying joint police forces along the Macedonia-Greece border. Other European states piled pressure on Greece to do more to control the influx of migrants into Europe via its shores.

Athens's Syriza-led government denounced the plans, with Ioannis Mouzalas, the migration minister, calling it an "experiment" that would turn Greece into a "cemetery of souls," according to reports. He warned against turning the migration debate into a "blame game."

Greek public order minister Nikos Toskas said, "It is very difficult to stop small boats coming [to Greece]...except sinking or shooting them, which is against our European values and Greek values and we will not do that."

The Greek government also stresses that other EU member states need to start taking their share of refugees. Plans agreed in 2015 are supposed to see 160,000 refugees relocated from Greece and Italy but thus far only 331 have been moved.

"If we cannot protect the external EU border, the Greek-Turkish border, then the Schengen external border will move towards central Europe," said Austria's Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner at a meeting of interior ministers in Amsterdam on Monday, Reuters reports.

"In the end, if a country doesn't live up to its obligations, we will have to restrict its connections to the Schengen area," Sweden's Interior Minister Anders Ygeman said.

Proposals to be considered by the European Commission following the meeting would allow passport checks within the Schengen zone for up to two years. Germany, France, Austria and Sweden have already introduced some level of border controls as the continent struggles to deal with the arrival of millions of refugees and migrants on its shores.