A meeting of European Union leaders on the burgeoning migration crisis ran late into Wednesday night as officials discussed funding for refugees and border controls, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras insisting that the burden of managing the crisis should be evenly spread.
Arriving at the summit in Brussels, Tsipras emphasized that all EU states must contribute to a solution. “United Europe means first of all, sharing, sharing of responsibility, sharing of burden, sharing of capabilities, sharing of our common future,” he said.
Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban said he would suggest to his counterparts that Greece should permit other countries to bolster border controls in order to curb the influx of migrants heading to Europe. “I think if the Greeks are not able to defend their own borders, we should ask kindly, because Greece is a sovereign country, to let the other countries of the European Union defend the Greek border,” Orban said.
Orban’s intervention came amid reports that Greece’s EU counterparts are urging it to appeal to Frontex, the bloc’s border monitoring agency, to dispatch guards to the Greek-Turkish border to help obstruct migrants intending to continue their journeys through Central and Northern Europe.
Specifically, EU officials are said to favor the mobilization of Frontex’s Rapid Border Intervention Teams, which were deployed in 2010 along Greece’s land border with Turkey to great effect.
The Hellenic Police and Frontex have been conducting a joint exercise in the border region of Evros over the past few days but sources indicate that Greek authorities are reluctant to permit the establishment of a permanent EU presence along Greece’s borders over concerns that this would erode the country’s sovereignty.
As pressure builds on Greece’s land border, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to arrive on islands in the eastern Aegean from Turkey. The influx has strained local resources and fueled fears of more accidents at sea as the weather worsens.