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Merkel: EU cannot let Greece fall into 'chaos'

Four million refugees have fled Syria for the relative safety of neighbouring countries [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 February, 2016

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Angela Merkel has warned against allowing Greece fall into chaos as Balkan nations tighten their grip on refugees entering their borders.

German chancellor, Angela Merkel said the EU cannot allow Greece to plunge into chaos by shutting European borders to refugees.

"Do you seriously believe that all the euro states that last year fought all the way to keep Greece in the eurozone -- and we were the strictest -- can one year later allow Greece to, in a way, plunge into chaos?" Merkel said in a TV interview.

She criticised a recent move by Balkan nations, with particular focus on Austria, to limit the amount of refugees entering the country per day- a move which causes congestion in neighbouring Greece as refugee boats continue to arrive from Turkey.

"What has happened is exactly what we feared, that a country is now left alone with its problems, and we can't allow that," the German leader said in a lengthy interview on the migrant crisis with public broadcaster ARD.

Tension has gripped EU nations in recent weeks after Vienna introduced the daily cap and four other Balkan countries, including Macedonia, Serbia Croatia and Slovenia tightened their borders.

Merkel received both praise and criticism when she allowed over a million asylum seekers from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan into the country.

She insisted the numbers can be reduced through tightening EU external borders as well as deploying NATO ships into the waters to stop refugee boats from reaching Greece- Europe’s gateway for those fleeing Syria and other conflict-ridden parts of the world.

"But many don't believe in this way and are saying 'well, who knows whether that will work?' said the chancellor.

"If that's the way you approach a problem, then indeed it won't work out."

Speaking on EU nations that have tightened their borders, Merkel said "The problem is that they acted independently and unilaterally, but it's not good if a country is not involved.

"Greece was simply left on the outside. The border was secured from the Macedonian side, without anyone speaking with Greece about whether Greece wanted to secure its borders too," she added.

Germany is not responsible for solving the "problem at the expense of another country but together with other countries. That's what we did in the euro crisis and that's what we have to do in the refugee crisis," she said.

However, Merkel suggested she remained optimistic on tackling the wider refugee crisis, and vowed that "it's my damn duty and obligation to do everything possible for Europe to find a united path."

Greece is the main entry point for migrants to the EU, with most coming over the Aegean Sea to Turkey via the Greek islands.

Since the beginning of the year more than 110,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Europe after crossing the Mediterranean, adding to the more than one million people that landed on the continent in 2015, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

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