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Greece files protest to Austria over Balkan migrants meeting
February 23, 2016 / 10:34 AM / 2 years ago

Greece files protest to Austria over Balkan migrants meeting

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece has filed a formal protest with Austria over its decision to call a meeting of Balkan states on the migrant crisis without including Greece, its Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, calling it an “non-friendly move” by Vienna.

Refugees and migrants stage a protest next to a border fence at the Greek-Macedonian border, following a demand by Macedonia for additional identification from people seeking to cross the border and head to Western Europe, near the village of Idomeni, Greece, February 22, 2016. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

The Austrian ambassador to Athens was summoned to the ministry on Monday where the diplomatic protest was filed, it said.

The move was a “unilateral and non-friendly act” towards Greece on a matter in which Athens had a direct interest, the ministry said.

Vienna has invited Balkan states to a meeting on the migration crisis on Wednesday, following the country’s move to limit asylum applicants last week.

The meeting includes interior and foreign ministers from Albania, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Kosovo, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.

Austria’s Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz will attend the meeting, hosted by Vienna’s Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner.

Greece is also on the Balkan peninsula and any attempts by its neighbours and countries nearby to close their borders could have a domino effect back to Greece, leaving thousands of migrants arriving by sea from Turkey stranded there.

Austria has largely served as a conduit into Germany for the migrants who have streamed through the Balkans but has limited asylum applicants to 80 per day.

Asked about the meeting, Greece’s Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas told Skai TV the move was anti-European, violating decisions taken by the EU.

“It wounds Europe and will burden our country with something it does not deserve. The Balkan route was a humanitarian corridor. It could close after consultations and not by turning one country against the other.”

Writing by Michele Kambas and George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Alison Williams

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