Tsipras voices ‘displeasure’ to EU over Balkans border bottleneck

23 February 2016
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Athens has expressed its “displeasure” to the EU over tougher border controls by Balkan countries that have left thousands of migrants stranded in Greece, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ office said Tuesday.

In a phone call with his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, Tsipras had also complained about being left out of a planned conference in Vienna on Wednesday involving countries along the migrant route through the western Balkans.

“Decisions concerning refugee flows must be taken collectively without exclusions,” Tsipras told Rutte according to the statement.

With all of Europe scrambling for solutions to the continent’s greatest migration challenge since World War II, Austria has invited interior and foreign ministers from Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia to a conference entitled “Managing Migration Together”.

At a European Council meeting last week, Tsipras had lobbied hard for a pledge from fellow EU peers not to toughen border controls until a migration summit can be held with Turkey in early March.

But Austria has imposed a cap on daily asylum requests, and FYROM – which is not an EU member – on Sunday stopped allowing passage to Afghans and imposed tougher border checks on Syrians and Iraqis, causing a massive bottleneck in Greece.

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