The Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner suggested in an interview that the solution to the refugee crisis was to seal off Greece from the rest of Europe.
A story in the Financial Times claimed that the idea was a real plan, as European officials were discussing a plan to pump money into the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia to build a stronger border with Greece, blocking the flow of refugees north and effectively stranding thousands in Greece.
The new policy would shift the EU’s migrant frontline from the Turkish coast and the Aegean Sea to Greece’s northern border. Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister who has feared such a move, has warned that his country could become a “black box” for refugees.
According to the Financial Times report, the plan was discussed by EU ambassadors after Miroslav Cerar, Slovenia’s prime minister, sent a letter to his EU counterparts urging “direct assistance” to FYROM to prevent “certain irregular migrants from crossing the Greece-Macedonian* border”. (*his quote)
Greece’s top migration official, Alternate Interior Minister for migration Yiannis Mouzalas, slammed the report, saying that it contained “falsehoods and distortions.”
But the Austrian Interior Minister confirmed that Athens could face temporary exclusion from the Schengen zone.
“If the Athens government does not finally do more to secure the (EU’s) external borders then one must openly discuss Greece’s temporary exclusion from the Schengen zone,” Ms Mikl-Leitner said in an interview with German daily Die Welt.
“It is a myth that the Greco-Turkish border cannot be controlled,” Ms Mikl-Leitner insisted.
“When a Schengen signatory does not permanently fulfill its obligations and only hesitatingly accepts aid then we should not rule out that possibility,” she said.
“The patience of many Europeans has reached its limit … we have talked a lot, now we must act. It is about protecting stability, order and security in Europe,” she said.