Saturday, February 27, 2016
Greece Turns Down Request by Austrian Interior Minister to Visit Athens
By Philip Chrysopoulos - Feb 26, 2016
maxresdefaultGreece has turned down a request by Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner to visit Athens for explanations over the recall of Greece’s ambassador to Vienna.
According to an Athens Macedonia News Agency report citing diplomatic sources, the Greek side turned down the visitation request unless measures against Greece are lifted.
The same sources said that Austria has taken a step back after the tough stance of the Greek foreign ministry, which on Thursday called the Greek ambassador to Vienna Chryssoula Aliferi for consultations in Athens.
Austria has repeatedly accused Greece of failing to protect its borders properly and allowing an excessively high number of migrants to continue their journey towards north Europe through the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
“If it is really the case that the Greek external border cannot be protected, can it be still a Schengen external border?” Mikl-Leitner wondered during a meeting of European Union interior ministers on Thursday.
Austria’s initiative to call a meeting of Balkan states to discuss the refugee influx crisis excluding Greece has angered Athens. Greek Deputy Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas retorted that Mikl-Leitner was “falsifying the truth” and “dragging Austria into increasingly hostile acts towards Greece and the EU.”
Mouzalas said that the European Commission and Frontex have confirmed that Greece is doing its job in protecting Europe’s border in the best possible way. Athens has also expressed its discontent in the belief that Austria has encouraged a series of border restrictions by Balkan states, causing thousands of migrants to be stranded in Greece.