Germany says Europe's inaction on refugees 'unacceptable'

By Frank Jordans, Associated Press | Posted - Aug. 20, 2015 at 2:51 p.m.


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BERLIN (AP) — Germany's interior minister on Thursday criticized Europe's failure to tackle the refugee crisis, saying the principle of passport-free travel that exists across much of the continent is at risk.

Thomas de Maiziere said he wants to see a series of measures to prevent migrants traveling unchecked through Europe, including the creation of waiting zones in Greece and Italy, common definitions of asylum and safe countries of origin, and the linking of aid to countries' willingness to take their citizens back.

"It's unacceptable for the European institutions to keep working at the speed they have," he told reporters after a meeting with his French counterpart in Berlin.

Germany has expressed anger that countries such as Italy and Greece are ignoring the rule that refugees must apply for asylum in the first EU country they arrive in. As a result, many refugees travel straight to Germany and Sweden.

Asked about Hungary's effort to build a 4-meter (13-foot) high fence to prevent migrants crossing its border with Serbia, de Maiziere said that "if other countries would abide by the law, then Hungary wouldn't build a fence."

Germany has been largely welcoming to the tens of thousands of refugees arriving there each month. But with 800,000 arrivals predicted this year, some officials have warned that the situation might become unsustainable.

On Thursday, police in eastern Germany said they were investigating a clash at an asylum-seekers' home in which 11 refugees and three police officers were injured.

Some 120 police officers were called to the home housing some 1,800 refugees in Suhl late Wednesday. Police said one resident was attacked by others for allegedly insulting the Quran by tearing pages from it.

Some 50 residents were involved, police said.

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David Rising contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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