European Union ministers are meeting in Brussels Thursday to puzzle out the latest strategy for dealing with a massive influx of migrants that are straining the resources of even the wealthier nations in the trade bloc.
Joining the EU interior and justice ministers are their counterparts from Serbia, Macedonia, and Turkey, nations that are quite literally on the front lines of the crisis, as they share their western borders with the easternmost nations of the European Union.
Greece, one of the EU’s most financially troubled members, has been struggling to cope with a bottleneck in the flow of people fleeing from violence in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned on Wednesday that his country will not agree to any more deals unless the other EU nations agree to share equally the burden of accommodating the nonstop flow of refugees.
Many refugees come to Greek shores first as they seek to travel the so-called “Balkan route” through Serbia and its neighbors to central and western Europe.
One of the issues on the agenda Thursday is Hungary’s plans to hold a referendum on an EU plan to introduce mandatory quotas on each country’s acceptance of migrants.
Hungary has drawn strong criticism from the EU for erecting a steel fence along Hungary’s southern border to keep out migrants, a policy now adopted by other countries affected by the unprecedented influx of migrants since World War Two.
The EU warned earlier this week that a humanitarian crisis is looming in Greece and complicated by restrictions the Balkan and Central Europe nations seek to place on immigration. Turkey has been under pressure from EU leaders to accommodate more migrants within its borders, sending fewer of them west.
(Photo: UNHCR/I Prickett)