European Union interior ministers on Monday urged Greece to do more to control the influx of asylum-seekers, with some threatening to have the country removed from the passport-free travel zone as the crisis continues to cause division among member states, Reuters reported.
Greece has been the main gateway for refugees and migrants seeking asylum in Europe. More than one million migrants reached Europe last year, most of them arriving first on Greek shores. Greece has been criticized for not doing enough to stem the flow of refugees to the rest of Europe, which shows no signs of abating.
"If we cannot protect the external EU border, the Greek-Turkish border, then the Schengen external border will move towards central Europe," said Austria's Interior Minister Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner.
The EU has taken various steps to assist cash-strapped Athens deal with the crisis, but some member states believe Greece has not put the aid to use. Five registration "hotspot" centers were planned to be set up with the cash assistance, but so far only one is up and running.
Athens says the sheer numbers of refugees arriving are impossible to manage and has accused the other member states of not providing the right kind of support and not accepting the numbers of refugees they had pledged to take.
"It is very difficult to stop small boats coming ... except sinking or shooting them, which is against our European values and Greek values and we will not do that," Athens' public order minister Nikos Toskas said.
© 2000 - 2020 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)