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German finance minister censures Greece for refugee policy

28 December 2015 9:48

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The German finance minister has censured Greece for its handling of an influx of refugees from violence-torn countries into Europe.

In an interview published in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag on Sunday, Wolfgang Schaeuble said Athens has for years ignored the European Union (EU) rules that require refugees to file for asylum in the first member state of the union they arrive in.

Greece is the main entry – and mainly a passage – point for most of the refugees bound for wealthier nations in Europe. At least 800,000 asylum seekers arrived in Greece from Turkey via the Aegean Sea in 2015, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Greece, already strained under an economic crisis of its own, has repeatedly called on richer EU members to do more to help with the crippling refugee influx.

“Greece is a country in economic crisis, and it faces a major humanitarian crisis within a crisis,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said in August, adding, “These dimensions exceed our country’s capabilities, they are European dimensions.”

Schaeuble said, “The Greeks should not only blame others for their problems, they should also consider how they can improve themselves.”

He said German courts had decided some time ago that refugees were not being treated humanely in Greece and, therefore, could not be sent back there.

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