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EU commissioner warns of migrant buildup in Greece

GREECE-MACEDONIA-EUROPE-MIGRANTS

Idomeni (Greece): Greece is likely to receive another 100,000 migrants by the end of the month, Europe’s migration commissioner has warned, two days ahead of an EU-Turkey summit seen as the only viable solution to the crisis.

As EU members continued to bicker, Dimitris Avramopoulos, in charge of migration at the powerful Brussels executive, pointed to upcoming measures, including an overhaul of asylum rules, to help ease tensions.

“Hundreds are arriving on a daily basis and Greece is expected to receive another 100,000 by the end of the month,” Avramopoulos told a conference in Athens yesterday.

Greece lies at the heart of Europe’s greatest migration crisis in six decades after a series of border restrictions on the migrant trail from Austria to Macedonia caused a bottleneck on its soil.

Over 30,000 refugees and migrants are now trapped in the country, desperate to head northwards, especially to Germany and Scandinavia.

“In a few weeks,” the EU will announce a revision of its asylum regulations to ensure a “fairer distribution of the burden and the responsibility,” Avramopoulous told the conference.

The huge influx of refugees and migrants has caused major divisions within the EU, although European President Donald Tusk on Friday struck an upbeat note about Monday’s summit in Brussels, which will include Turkey.

European leaders are expected to use the summit to press Ankara to take back more economic migrants from Greece and reduce the flow of people across the Aegean Sea.

Finger-pointing continued within the 28-nation EU bloc yesterday.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel – a key player in the drama – said Greece should have been quicker in preparing to host 50,000 people under an agreement with the European Union in October.

“Greece should have created 50,000 accommodation places for refugees by the end of 2015,” Merkel told Bild newspaper in an interview to appear today.

“This delay must be addressed as soon as possible as the Greek government must provide decent lodgings” to asylum claimants, she said.

Germany’s neighbour, Austria, meanwhile, reiterated its call for Berlin to establish an annual quota of refugees.

Last year, 1.1 million migrants arrived in Germany under Merkel’s liberal asylum policy – a flood that other countries have said is just not sustainable.

“Germany, for its part, has to determine a figure for the number of refugees which can be accepted, which it is willing to go and pick up in the Syria and Turkey region,” Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said in an interview in the daily Kurier.

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