Med ministers warn against ‘unilateral actions’ on migration

26 February 2016
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The huge influx of migrants to the European Union is testing the bloc’s unity, Mediterranean foreign ministers said Friday, warning member states against “unilateral actions” to tackle the crisis.

“Migration remains the major issue testing the EUs unity and ability to respond to an international problem,” ministers from the “Med Group” bloc said after talks in the Cypriot resort of Limassol.

Their meeting came as Athens is embroiled in a diplomatic dispute with Vienna over migration policy, with Athens refusing a visit by Austria’s interior minister whom it accused of “falsifying the truth” over its border control efforts.

Austria has repeatedly accused Greece of failing to police its borders properly and allowing an excessively high number of migrants to continue their journey to western Europe.

Greece believes Austria has encouraged a series of border restrictions by Balkan states along the migrant trail to northern and western Europe that has caused a bottleneck on Greek soil.

The Med Group – comprising the foreign ministers of Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain, as well as France’s European affairs minister – said it was on the “front line” of the migrant crisis.

“Member states’ unilateral actions cannot be a solution to this crisis,” they said in a statement.

“All of us should implement what has already been decided,” Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides told reporters.

The migration crisis shows no signs of abating, with 110,000 crossing the Mediterranean to Europe so far this year, on top of the one million who made the often perilous journey in 2015.

Many of those seeking refuge in Europe have fled the war in Syria, where a ceasefire brokered by Washington and Moscow was due to take effect from Saturday.

“The EU should have a direct and active contribution to the solution of the Syrian conflict, considering the impact of the crisis to the EU and its member states,” the ministers said in their statement.

The truce agreement marks the biggest diplomatic push yet to help end Syrias violence, but has been plagued by doubts after the failure of previous peace efforts.

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