Wednesday 21 March 2018

EU must share migrants fairly - Merkel

Migrants in Greece board buses for Macedonia
Migrants in Greece board buses for Macedonia

Richard Weiss and Patrick Donahue

Chancellor Angela Merkel renewed her call for a fair distribution of refugees across the European Union, citing images of conflict as a flood of migrants seeks passage across Balkan states in southeastern Europe.

"These pictures remind us of times when it wasn't so peaceful in Europe - and they must be turned into pictures rather of Europe taking on its responsibility," Ms Merkel told a meeting of IG Metall union members yesterday in Frankfurt. "And that means a fair distribution of the burden."

The German leader said the wave of refugees seeking shelter from war "is not a mass group or anonymous numbers, but rather individual people" on whom Europe can't turn its back. She defended her trip to Istanbul this week to seek an accord with the Turkish government to control the flow of refugees. "This is globalisation coming right to our doorstep," Merkel said.

The European Union's executive on Wednesday announced an extraordinary mini-summit of EU and Balkan leaders this coming Sunday to deal with the migrant crisis.

A statement from EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's office said "there is a need for much greater cooperation, more extensive consultation and immediate operational action."

Nations invited to attend are EU member states Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia, as well as non-EU countries Macedonia and Serbia.


The announcement came as migrants from the Middle East and Africa continue to make their way across Europe by the tens of thousands, fleeing war or seeking a better life. Many of the arrivals attempt to enter the EU through the Balkans.

The statement from Mr Juncker's office said the extraordinary meeting of heads of state and government is necessary because of "the unfolding emergency in the countries along the Western Balkans migratory route".

"The objective of the meeting will be to agree common operational conclusions which could be immediately implemented," the EU Commission statement said.

It said officials from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees have also been invited to attend, as well as officials from the EU's own border protection agency and asylum office.

Irish Independent

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