Greece has recalled its envoy from Austria for consultations in an escalation of a row between Athens and Vienna over the European Union’s management of the current refugee crisis.
The Greek Foreign Ministry announced on Thursday that it was recalling the ambassador to Austria for consultations to “safeguard friendly relations between the states and peoples of Greece and Austria.”
The Austrian Foreign Ministry retorted that the recalling of the envoy could be an opportunity for him to inform Athens of the challenging situation facing countries on the refugees’ route, such as Austria itself.
Austria has introduced a daily cap on asylum applications in the country.
Earlier this week, the Austrian government held a meeting with Balkan countries but chose not to invite Greece, which is another first landing spot for the asylum-seekers.
The meeting between Austria and the Balkan states was reportedly aimed at discussing more restrictions on refugee entries.
The restrictions would mean that many of refugees will have to remain stranded in Greece, where they usually arrive by boat first.
Athens, grappling with an acute economic crisis of its own, has been complaining of the massive numbers of refugees entering the country from one side but unable to leave from the other in the face of border restrictions by neighboring countries.
The Greek government is also unhappy with the failure by other EU members to share some of the burden of the refugee crisis with Athens.
Ahead of an EU meeting on Thursday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned that any EU deal on the refugee crisis must incorporate mandatory distributions of the refugees.
The Thursday meeting of the EU interior ministers in Brussels, held in an attempt to develop a unified approach to the bloc’s huge refugee crisis, failed to yield tangible results amid a cacophony of individual demands from member states.
Austria and the Balkan states claim that the EU’s plans are not working, and accuse Greece of not doing enough.
EU Commissioner of Migration and Home Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos has warned that the bloc has until a March 7 summit to check the flow of refugees or see its migration system fall apart.
Greek Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas has said his country would not “accept becoming Europe’s Lebanon, a warehouse of souls” in a reference to the huge number of Syrian asylum seekers that Lebanon has taken in over the past several years.
Meanwhile, hundreds of refugees have left a camp in northern Greece to walk to the border with Macedonia, days after Skopje cut the number of people it allows through each day.
Europe is facing an unprecedented influx of refugees, most of whom are fleeing conflict-ridden zones in Africa and the Middle East, particularly Syria.
Many blame support by some Western countries for the militants operating in the Middle East as the main reason behind the exodus of the refugees from their home countries.