As debate intensifies over Greece’s fate in the Schengen passport-free zone due its perceived failure in tackling a burgeoning migration crisis, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere indicated that stopping migrants and refugees at the Slovenia-Croatia border would effectively block Greece out of the zone but would have repercussions for other countries.
“Stopping refugees between Slovenia and Croatia is an idea which is being discussed in depth by countries in southeastern Europe,” de Maiziere told German news magazine Der Spiegel on Saturday.
“One cannot overlook the fact that Greece would thus be blocked de facto from Schengen, which could create overcrowding, either in Greece, in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or elsewhere in the Balkans,” he said.
De Maiziere, who is due in Greece next week for talks on the refugee crisis, noted that Turkey had made only “isolated efforts” to honor its pledges to the European Union to crack down on the smugglers who are bringing thousands of migrants and refugees into the bloc via Greece. Turkish authorities must do much more if the wave of undocumented migration across the Aegean is to be contained, he added.
In an interview with Austria’s Der Standard, Greek Alternate Minister for Migration Affairs Yiannis Mouzalas defended Athens’s response to the crisis, saying that EU border agency Frontex itself has noted that the Greek authorities are doing “a very good job” and underlining that the priority remains to rescue refugees at sea.