With Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras already agreeing to take back refugees who made it to Germany after leaving Greece, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wants to send some back too.
Greece is already trying to deal with more than 64,000 refugees and migrants, including some 15,000 on islands in the Aegean where Turkey allowed human traffickers to send them during a suspended swap deal with the European Union.
Tsipras, who had complained the EU wasn’t doing enough to help and with human rights groups, volunteers and island officials ripping his Radical Left SYRIZA for its handling of the crisis, said he would allow Germany to ship some back so he could help Chancellor Angela Merkel deal with criticism she let too many in.
Under the EU’s migration rules, asylum can be sought only in the country where people first land, almost always Greece or Italy as they physically can’t get to Germany or inland countries first.
EU countries closed their borders to the refugees and migrants and reneged on promises to take an overload from Greece while the European Commissioner in charge of migration, Greece’s Dimitris Avramopoulos, not moving to make them honor pledges to help and saying he can’t take them to court because it’s a political hot potato for him.
Now Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer called for more migrant returns to Greece and Italy to dump the problem on those countries.
During a tense press conference in Berlin with Merkel, Orban called for undocumented migrants to be returned to Greece, noting that it is the first country of arrival even if all migrants are not registered there.
Referring to a fence erected along his country’s southern border with Serbia and Croatia, Orban described himself as a “captain” of border protection, shielding both Hungary and Germany, uncaring what Greece is faced with.
“We only know one solution: close the borders,” he said, adding that if Europe offers support to refugees, it will be taken as an invitation. “If people can come, they will come,” he said.
Merkel, who let a million into Germany, said though that, “We must never forget that these are people, these are people that are coming to us, and that has some relation to the basic message of Europe which is humanity.”
Seehofer said migrants intercepted at the German border with Austria who have traveled to Europe via Greece or Italy must be returned, said Kathimerini.