One would think a conference on Europe’s refugee crisis would include Greece— the nation that saw 1 million refugees pass through its borders last year and more than 100,000 in the first two months of 2016, alone.
But Austria decided to host a meeting— along with 9 other Balkan states NOT including Greece, to address the flow of refugees into Europe.
Greece considered this an “unfriendly act” and recalled its ambassador from Vienna for consultations in Athens, according to a statement by Greek foreign minister Nikos Kotzias.
The meeting drew an angry reaction from Kotzias, with the foreign ministry warning that “responsibility for dealing with the migration and refugee crisis cannot burden one country”.
The 10 nations, led by Austria, decided on their own and without any European Union approval or involvement, to block the flow of refugees by imposing their own set of rules and border regulations.
The unilateral move by these nations will effectively keep more refugees in Greece, the main point of entry for refugees, who are arriving with the support of Turkish smugglers on Turkey’s western shores.
Among the measures discussed amongst the 10 nations was an agreement to grant entry only to those people “in proven need of protection.” This will limit passage to Iraqis and Syrians who are facing wars in their home nations and exclude Afghans, Africans and others who are fleeing economic crises.
“It is not possible to process unlimited numbers of migrants and applicants for asylum,” said a declaration issued by the meeting attendees, which included European Union members — Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia — as well as Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, fyroMacedonia, Montenegro and Serbia, which are not EU members.
The document cited “limited resources and reception capacities, potential consequences for internal security and social cohesion, as well as challenges with regard to integration.”