The number of migrants at the overcrowded Idomeni camp on Greece's border with Macedonia will be significantly reduced in one week's time, Greek Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Vitsas told TV network Skai on Saturday.

Some 12,000 migrants are stranded at the makeshift camp, blocked from moving out of Greece by neighbouring Macedonia and other countries further along the Balkan route to wealthier northern Europe.

The government began handing out flyers on Saturday that informed migrants in Arabic, Farsi and Pashto that the border was closed and urged them to accept accommodation at shelters elsewhere in Greece.

About 1,000 have already boarded buses headed to shelters in Athens and other locations, Vitsas said.

Conditions at the camp, which was initially set up to host no more than 2,000 people, deteriorated in recent weeks as the number of people swelled. Rights groups warn the cold, muddy and unhygienic site could become a humanitarian disaster.

A 9-year-old Syrian refugee staying at the camp was diagnosed with Hepatitis A, a viral liver disease that often spread through contaminated drinking water. Greek health authorities said Saturday the child was in stable condition at a hospital in Thessaloniki.

By the end of the next week there will be enough reception centres across Greece to accommodate 50,000 migrants, Vitsas said, a number the government committed to late last year.

Many of the migrants in Idomeni are awaiting the outcome of Thursday's summit of EU leaders on the refugee crisis before deciding their next move, hoping that the borders that have been slammed shut by Balkan countries such as Macedonia will once again be opened, he said.

The European Union has put its hope in a highly controversial deal being hashed out with Turkey, under which Ankara would take back any new migrants arriving in Greece, while the EU would directly resettle an equal share of Syrians living in Turkey.

The perilous Aegean Sea route from Turkey to Greece has been the main gateway to Europe for thousands fleeing war and misery in recent months, creating lucrative opportunities for people smugglers.

The flow of migrants to the continent continued Saturday with another 1,500 arriving at the Greek port of Piraeus on Saturday, Greek radio station Athina 984 reported.

Meanwhile there is debate about which other paths to Europe may emerge following the closure of the Western Balkan route, with Bulgaria expressing concerns that it has not been included in EU talks with its neighbour Turkey.

Vienna offered the country support in securing its border with Turkey, following a visit from Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner to Bulgaria on Saturday.

There is a "common interest" in protecting Europe's external borders, Mikl-Leitner said in the eastern city of Burgas. She was joined by Austrian Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil on the visit.

The ministers agreed to provide Bulgaria, the European Union's poorest member state, with a military helicopter to assist border controls, after meeting with Prime Minister Boyko Borisov in Sofia.

Bulgaria is currently in the process of prolonging by another 130 kilometres a 30-kilometre fence erected at its border with Turkey in 2014.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.