Greece may have to be temporarily excluded from the European Union’s passport-free Schengen zone because it is not controlling the flow of migrants, Austria’s Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said on Saturday.
“If the Athens government does not finally do more to secure the [EU’s] external borders then one must openly discuss Greece’s temporary exclusion from the Schengen zone,” Mikl-Leitner said in an interview with German daily Die Welt.
“It is a myth that the Greek-Turkish border cannot be controlled,” Mikl-Leitner insisted.
“When a Schengen signatory does not permanently fulfill its obligations and only hesitatingly accepts aid then we should not rule out that possibility,” she added.
“The patience of many Europeans has reached its limit... We have talked a lot, now we must act. It is about protecting stability, order and security in Europe,” she insisted.
Her comments came as Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported that a group of EU countries is pushing for an extension of border checks within the Schengen zone.
The initiative will be discussed at a meeting of EU interior ministers in Amsterdam Monday, the paper reported.
Six Schengen members, including Germany and four other EU countries, have reinstated temporary border checks in the passport-free area.
Last week, Greece’s Alternate Minister for Migration Policy Yiannis Mouzalas reacted angrily to a Financial Times report that EU officials believe threatening Greece with suspension from Schengen may prompt it to protect its borders more effectively.
He said the report contained “falsehoods and distortions.”