German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Greece is mostly to blame for the European Union’s refugee crisis despite being overwhelmed by the arrival of more than 826,000 this year – most heading to other countries, especially Germany.
Schaeuble, a constant critic of Greek governments over the way they’ve mishandled the country’s crushing economic crisis, said Athens has for years ignored the EU’s Dublin rules that require migrants to file for asylum in the first European Union (EU) country they arrive in.
Under fire from human rights groups, Greece has routinely rejected 99.99 percent of all asylum requests and now has criticized the EU for doing too little to help deal with the invasion of refugees driven out of their countries, particularly Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, by war and strife.
Schaeuble told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that German courts had decided some time ago that refugees were not being treated humanely in Greece and could not be sent back there, contrary to the Dublin rules.
“The Greeks should not put the blame for their problems only on others, they should also see how they can do better themselves,” said Schaeuble, a thorn in the side to the last few Greek governments who’ve had to rely on international aid, much of it from Germany. Three bailouts have come with attached harsh austerity measures backed by Berlin.
Schaeuble tough sought to offer to compromise with eastern European states that have voiced reluctance to accept migrants under EU quotas.
Solidarity doesn’t start by insulting each other,” he said. “Eastern European states will also have to take in refugees, but fewer than Germany.” The biggest migration crisis in Europe since World War Two also means that European countries will have to increase spending on the military, he said, according to Reuters.
“We will have to spend a lot more funds for joint European defense initiatives,”he said, adding: “Ultimately our aim must be a joint European army. The funds that we spend on our 28 national armies could be used far more effectively together,” he said.
“For Germany, this means that we will have to support our foreign and security policies more strongly than we would perhaps like,” he said, adding the Middle East would not become stable without stronger European engagement.