The Latest: Austria holds firm on border restrictions

IDOMENI, Greece (AP) — The Latest on Europe’s migration crisis (all times local):

4:10 p.m.

Austria’s chancellor is holding firm on border restrictions choking the flow of migrants along the Balkan route to West Europe, reflecting the failure of a top EU official to persuade him to change his mind.

Werner Faymann insists his country must control its borders to stop the “unorganized chaos” he says has characterized the EU’s approach to dealing with the migrant crisis.

He said Tuesday that Austria is neither a “waiting room for Germany” nor— in an allusion to Greece — prepared to accept the “policy of waving through” migrants to the rest of the EU through Austria.

Faymann spoke after meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk. Indirectly rejecting the Austrian restrictions, Tusk said all EU nations need to get back to fully applying “common rules” of open borders.


3:45 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the buildup of migrants at the Greek-Macedonian border isn’t comparable to the situation last September, when she agreed to let in thousands of people who had piled up in Hungary.

Merkel said after meeting Croatia’s prime minister on Tuesday that preparations have been made in recent months to deal with the hundreds of people arriving daily in Greece. She said: “There are accommodation possibilities … in Greece, they should be used by the refugees.”

Merkel reiterated that the aim is to have a mechanism to distribute refugees arriving in Greece to other European countries. She stressed “there is not a right for a refugee to say, ‘I want to get asylum in a particular country in the European Union.'”

Germany saw nearly 1.1 million people register as asylum-seekers last year.


2:50 p.m.

The head of Europe’s border control agency says the numbers of migrants crossing into Europe in January and February this year was thirty times higher than the levels reached at the same time last year.

Frontex chief Fabrice Leggeri spoke Tuesday in the Turkish capital of Ankara. He is in Turkey to discuss border management and the fight against smugglers. His visit came as Turkey is under pressure to deliver on a pledge to crack down on the huge numbers of migrants trying to cross into Greece.

The Frontex chief welcomed the creation within the Turkish national police of a special center to fight smugglers.

Leggeri said: “The struggle against smugglers is necessary to ensure that the migrants are not victims of these traffickers.”


12:15 p.m.

About two dozen migrants protesting the demolition of a sprawling camp in northern France are occupying shanty rooftops, and are surrounded by police.

The slow tear-down of the encampment in Calais is continuing, angering migrants who live there in squalid conditions in hopes of reaching a better life in Britain.

In Tuesday’s protest, a man and a woman on a rooftop warned police not to come closer. But police moved in, and the woman sliced her wrists. The man was beaten with batons and both were removed from the roof. The woman was conscious, but her condition wasn’t immediately known.

French authorities are blaming the activist group No Borders for the ongoing unrest.

Calais is temporary home to an estimated 4,000 migrants, down from 6,000 in December.


11:20 a.m.

More than 7,000 refugees and other migrants are camped on Greece’s northern border with Macedonia, waiting for authorities to allow them to continue their long trek north to seek asylum in wealthier European countries.

The Idomeni crossing has been closed for nearly 24 hours, following clashes when hundreds of migrants tried to force their way into Macedonia, whose police responded with tear gas and stun grenades.

Hundreds of small tents stood Tuesday in the fields around an official migrant camp on the Greek side of the border that can take no more people.

Some migrants have been waiting at Idomeni for more than a week, as even when the border is open Macedonia allows in no more than a few hundred, citing a similar policy by Serbia further north.