IDOMENI, Greece (AP) — The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):
Austria’s foreign minister says it is “absurd” for migrants at Greece’s northern border to demonstrate to be let into Macedonia, a non-European Union nation.
Migrants have been massing in Greece since countries on the Balkan route restricted entry, responding to limits imposed by Austria.
Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz told German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung that if people are demonstrating to be let into Macedonia, “it is not about the search for protection, but about the search for a better economic future. That is understandable in human terms, but we cannot offer this.”
Kurz said last year’s opening of borders was “a serious mistake” that prompted more migrants to set off.
Greece’s prime minister has called for sanctions to be imposed on European Union states that refuse to take in their share of the hundreds of thousands of refugees flowing into the continent through his country.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also demanded that the practically dormant procedure for relocating refugees stranded in Greece to other EU members should be drastically speeded up.
Speaking Thursday after a meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk in Athens, Tsipras promised to provide “dignified” living conditions for the more than 25,000 migrants trapped in Greece after other countries further north along the migration route to Western Europe imposed sweeping entry restrictions.
But he insisted that the solution can only be temporary and Greece will accept only its fair share of permanently resettled refugees.
European Council President Donald Tusk is warning prospective economic migrants to not even think of setting off toward Europe.
Tusk says people who are looking for a better life but are not fleeing war should not risk their lives or their money paying smugglers to bring them to Europe.
“It is all for nothing,” he said. “Greece, or any other European country, will no longer be a transit country.”
Tusk was in Athens as part of a tour through countries worst affected by the continent’s immigration crisis. Later Thursday, he was to visit Turkey, from where the vast majority of the roughly 1 million migrants who entered Greece over the past 14 months crossed over in smuggling boats.
A group of migrants at Greece’s border with Macedonia have blocked a rail line in protest at Macedonia’s refusal to let them in to continue their route toward Western Europe.
The group lay down on the Greek side of the train track Thursday morning, preventing a freight train that had just crossed from Macedonia from continuing its journey south.
Some 10,000 people are blocked at the border. Macedonian authorities have said they will only let in as many people as the next country on the route, Serbia, takes. Greek police said that in the 24 hours to 6 a.m. Thursday, 500 people were allowed to cross.
Some of those who were allowed into Macedonia were then sent back by authorities there because of problems with their papers.
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