Greece recalls ambassador from Austria in migrant row
Greece recalled its ambassador from Austria yesterday and warned it would not be treated as "Europe's Lebanon" as the migrant crisis strained relations between EU states to breaking point.
Talks between European Union (EU) interior ministers in Brussels descended into chaos due to the row over Austria's decision to call a western Balkans meeting this week without inviting Greece.
The EU's attempts to forge a unified response to the biggest migration crisis in its history are fraying as individual 28 member states increasingly take matters into their own hands to protect their borders.
The Greek foreign ministry hit out at what it called "19th-century" attitudes and said the envoy's recall was designed to "safeguard friendly relations between the states and peoples of Greece and Austria".
Athens was already seething over a series of border restrictions by Austria, Macedonia and Serbia along the migrant trail to northern Europe that has caused a bottleneck in Greece, the main entry point to Europe from Turkey.
The crisis caused by refugees and migrants from Syria, the Middle East and Africa shows no signs of abating with 100,000 arriving in Europe so far this year on top of one million in 2015.
Germany's parliament yesterday agreed on tougher asylum rules aimed at curbing a record-influx of refugees as senior aides of Chancellor Angela Merkel played down reports that ministry officials were expecting some 3.6 million migrants by 2020.
The Bundestag lower house of parliament passed a bundle of measures such as a two-year ban on family reunions for some asylum seekers that would also affect unaccompanied minors. It also agreed on a new law to facilitate the deportation of foreign nationals who commit crimes, in the wake of assaults on women on New Year's Eve which were widely blamed on migrants.
In a positive development, Nato yesterday managed to overcome sharp differences between long-time rivals Greece and Turkey to finalise an unprecedented naval mission to tackle migrant smugglers in the Aegean.