Schaeuble, who has clashed repeatedly with Greek officials this year, over economic policy, told Bild am Sonntag that Athens has for years ignored the rules that oblige migrants to file for asylum in the first European Union country to which they arrive. He said German courts had decided that refugees were not being treated humanely in Greece and could not be sent back there. “The Greeks should not put the blame for their problems only on others, they should also see how they can do better themselves,” Schaeuble said.
Greece, a main gateway to Europe for migrants crossing the Aegean sea, has faced criticism from other EU governments, who say it has done little to manage the flow of hundreds of thousands of people arriving on its shores.
Joachim Herrmann, the interior minister of the southern state of Bavaria, which has taken the brunt of the refugee influx to Germany, criticised how Greece secures its external borders.
“What Greece is doing is a farce,” Herrmann said in an interview with Die Welt am Sonntag newspaper, adding that any country that does not meet its obligations to secure its external borders should leave the Schengen zone, where internal border controls have been abolished. The EU’s border agency, Frontex, has agreed to increase its presence in Greece, at the end of the month, while European guards will help Greeks manage their frontier with Macedonia, following concern over Athens’ commitment to controlling migration.
Herrmann said it was also important to secure the border with Slovenia, so that all people entering the Schengen zone from Croatia could be registered and potential terrorists spotted.
“If this is not guaranteed within a few weeks, we will have to become active on our own borders,” he said.
In contrast to his criticism of Greece, Schaeuble offered compromise with eastern European countries that have voiced reluctance to accept migrants under EU quotas. “Solidarity doesn’t start by insulting each other,” Schaeuble said. “Eastern European states will also have to take in refugees, but fewer than Germany.”