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European ministers have met in Brussels to discuss solutions to the ongoing migrant crisis. Some officials have warned that the EU could be on the verge of crumbling if it doesn’t get a handle on the refugee crisis.
De Maiziere, Asselborn and Avramopoulos
Some officials have warned that the EU could be on the verge of crumbling if it doesn’t get a handle on the refugee crisis.
EU interior ministers met Thursday in Brussels to discuss ways to streamline a response to the refugee crisis, just as Greek leaders blasted fellow member states for not sharing more of the burden.
Ahead of the meeting, Luxembourg’s foreign minister, Jean Asselborn, warned that the continent’s current approach to the crisis could be disastrous for European unity.
“We have no common line any more, we are steering somehow into anarchy,” Asselborn said.
‘Ten more days’
“If a solution by March 7 is not possible, there have to be other European and coordinated measures,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, referring to a deal with Turkey that will require Ankara to cut the flow of migrants to Europe in exchange for 3 billion euros ($3.3 billion).
EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos went so far as to say the EU has ten more days to reduce the number of migrants “or else there is risk the whole system will completely break down.”
The EU has struggled with an influx of migrants over the past month, with more than 1 million people – many of them from war-torn countries like Syria – arriving in 2015. Many of these migrants enter through Greece as they make the trek toward Germany. EU officials have criticized Athens for its policy of “waving through” migrants who tell officials they want to continue further into the EU.
Greece lashes out
Greek officials, meanwhile, have called on their European counterparts to do more, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras threatening not to cooperate with Brussels in the future.
“Greece will not accept becoming Europe’s Lebanon, a warehouse of souls, even if this were to be done with major (EU) funding,” immigration minister Yannis Mouzalas said. Lebanon currently hosts around 1 million Syrian refugees.
The harsh rhetoric comes a day after another EU meeting in Vienna, in which Greece was excluded. The previous weekend, Macedonia had closed its border with Greece, after many of the migrants who crossed over that border were turned back at later points during their trek.
Tensions further ratcheted up on Thursday when Greece recalled its ambassador to Austria in response to its exclusion from the Vienna meeting.