Slovenian PM: Refugee crisis could be the beginning of the end of the EU
Several Prime Ministers from EU Member States used unusually direct, harsh words, including against the European Commission, when arriving in Brussels yesterday for a negotiation about migration routes to the EU through the Balkans. The mini-summit of high representatives of countries from the region, where some are EU Member States and some are not, was convened last week by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker with the aim of quickly agreeing on concrete measures for addressing the crisis situation of tens of thousands of refugees passing through the area in an attempt to reach Western Europe before winter sets in.
"This is about Europe now. If we do not jointly undertake all that it is possible to do, I am concerned this will be the beginning of the end of the European Union," warned Slovenian PM Miro Cerar as he arrived for the meeting.
While Greek PM Alexis Tsipras spoke of the need to share responsibility, his colleagues called primarily for the Greeks to improve the protection of their sea border. "We will fulfill our obligations in time," Tisipras told journalists as he arrived in Brussels, reminding them that so-called "hot spots" have been created for registering migrants in Greece.
"I have come here to discuss the situation. I am not here to accept conclusions that won't get us anywhere, or conclusions that basically make no sense and don't bind any country to anything," declared Croatian PM Zoran Milanović.
The proposed concluding declaration for yesterday's meeting stated, among other things, that each country will refrain from permitting refugees to reach the next border crossing without the agreement of the neighboring state. The policy of "shunting" the migrants from border to border and transferring this problem further down the line, according to the document, is unacceptable.
"There is no risk of that. We fall fourth in line in that sequence. The entire definition is unnecessary," Milanović said yesterday.
The Croatian PM said yesterday that he believed the meeting would just be a "pleasant Sunday debate". After Hungary closed its borders with a fence and has become, as Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán put it yesterday, "just an observer of the situation", thousands of migrants are now flowing through Croatia and Slovenia toward Western Europe.
More than 3 900 people arrived from Croatia to Slovenia during Saturday. Slovenian PM Cerar has made it unequivocally clear that his country is no longer able to cope with the influx and has asked for aid to beef up police forces and for some basic progress in Greece's protection of the Turkish border.
Turkey, which is a key country for the EU when it comes to reducing the number of migrants entering the EU-28, was not invited to yesterday's negotiation. The Hungarian PM, who was visibly in a good mood yesterday, noted that there is a need to finally begin debating the necessity of upholding various international rules.
"I hope that this afternoon we will end these open-border policies that contravene the Schengen rules," he declared. The summit's proposed concluding declaration states that countries can refuse entry to third-country citizens who refuse to admit they are seeking international protection when crossing a border.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday before the meeting that an important aim of the discussion would be to agree on aid for the people who are "lost in the Balkans" under less and less bearable conditions with the onset of winter. Serbian PM Aleksandar Vućić also made a somewhat surprising announcement to journalists yesterday as he arrived for the meeting.
Serbia allegedly is prepared to accept a certain number of refugees and does not want to build any new fences or walls. "We are prepared to receive our quota like everyone else even though we are not EU members," he said.
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