Greece warns EU as minister plan to curb refugees

Greece warns any EU deal on the refugee crisis must incorporate mandatory distributions of the refugees as ministers of the bloc meet to tighten regulations.

“Greece will not agree to deals if a mandatory allocation of burdens and responsibilities among member countries is not secured,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told parliament in Athens.

His comments came as EU interior ministers gathered to hold a meeting in Brussels on Thursday to hear plans by Austria and eight Balkan countries to fingerprint all refugees.

Greece is grappling with a crisis from Macedonia’s decision to block entry to Afghans, which has left thousands of migrants stranded on its territory.

Austria and Balkan nations have also agreed measures to restrict numbers, while Hungary plans to hold a referendum on whether to accept mandatory quotas of migrants.

In Brussels, EU interior ministers will hear plans under which anyone who does not have a passport or holds fake documents would be turned away.

Back in September, EU ministers agreed to relocate 120,000 refugees from Italy, Greece and Hungary to other EU countries. But Romania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary expressed opposition to the majority vote decision.

There are concerns that the refugee crisis may lead to the collapse of the EU as a unitary bloc as its member states have not succeeded in adopting a common approach to the refugee issue so far.

Greece wants other EU member states to implement the existing agreements on taking in refugees without further delay.

Austria has already introduced a daily cap on asylum applications. Some Balkan countries have also tightened entry conditions.

On Wednesday, Tsipras accused EU partners of dumping the burden of the refugee crisis on Greece.

“We will not accept turning the country into a permanent warehouse of souls with Europe continuing to function as if nothing is happening,” he said.


Children sit on a blanket as they rest in a camp with other refugees waiting for a train to Serbia, near Gevgelija, at the Macedonian-Greek border, Feb. 24, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Greece has not been invited to a March 7 EU summit in Brussels to discuss the refugee crisis with ministers from Balkan states.

Europe is facing an unprecedented influx of refugees, most of whom are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.

Many blame support by some Western countries’ for militants operating in the Middle East as the main reason behind the exodus of the refugees from their home countries.

Pro-refugee rally in Germany

On Wednesday, pro-refugee activists rallied in eastern Germany to protest against EU’s anti-refugee policies as well as the “xenophobic rhetoric” of the extremist PEGIDA movement.

Carrying banners that read “No one is illegal” and “Who doesn’t drown gets locked up” to denounce the current European refugee policies, the protesters marched through the streets of Leipzig.

The writings were referring to the fact that a number of refugees bound for Europe drown on their sea journeys to the continent while some of them end up confined in refugee camps.

The pro-refugee activists in Germany were later joined by protesters who marched against LEGIDA, which is PEGIDA’s offshoot in Leipzig.

PEGIDA, a German acronym that stands for the “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West,” began to launch rallies in Germany in October 2014 and managed to attract some supporters across the country.

The group was caught in a series of scandals, prompting mass resignations among its leaders and its disappearance from the German political scene last year.

However, PEGIDA has made a comeback in the wake of the refugee influx. More than 100,000 refugees have reached Europe so far this year.

By Press TV