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Refugee crisis a ‘European problem,’ Tsipras tells German, French ministers

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Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday defended his government's record in responding to the refugee crisis, declaring that Greece is honoring all its commitments and underlining that other countries should do the same. 

In comments after talks with visiting German and French interior ministers, Thomas de Maiziere and Bernard Cazeneuve, Tsipras said his government's priority was to quickly complete screening centers, or hot spots, for migrants and refugees on the Aegean islands.

Tsipras emphasized that the refugee crisis is a European problem and that the number of lives being lost in the Aegean amid the migrant tide from Turkey is "unspeakable."

"Greece is honoring the commitments it has undertaken to manage the refugee crisis and everyone must honor the commitments they have also undertaken," the premier said.

Describing the talks with Tsipras as "honest and productive," Cazeneuve said the EU cannot bear a migrant influx the size of last year's in 2016. Discussion must continue with Turkey so that it too keeps its promises, he said. The EU's border monitoring agency Frontex will be boosted in Greece, he added, noting that experts in tracing forged travel documents will be among the new staff sent to the Aegean.

In an exclusive interview with Kathimerini, de Maiziere said Greece must "do its fair share" to address the refugee crisis and did not rule out the possibility of the country being removed from the Schengen zone.