Migrant crisis: France, Germany, Britain push for urgent meeting

PARIS/DRESDEN • France, Germany and Britain made a joint call yesterday for an urgent meeting of European Union interior and justice ministers to find concrete measures to tackle the migration crisis.

The interior ministers of the three nations "have asked the Luxembourg presidency to organise a special meeting of justice and interior ministers in the next two weeks, to find concrete steps" to deal with the crisis, they said in a statement.

The call came after Germany's Mr Thomas de Maiziere, Britain's Ms Theresa May and France's Mr Bernard Cazeneuve spoke on Saturday, on the sidelines of a transport security meeting in Paris.

The three ministers "underlined the necessity to take immediate action to deal with the challenge from the migrant influx".

They want reception centres to be set up urgently in Greece and Italy to register new arrivals, and an EU list of "safe countries of origin" to be instituted.

Berlin, which expects to receive 800,000 asylum-seekers this year, has been pushing for such a list, arguing that it would free up resources to help those who are fleeing war and persecution.


When I see a certain number of European countries, particularly in the east, who do not accept quotas (of migrants), I find it scandalous.

FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER LAURENT FABIUS, stressing that the refusal of some nations to take in refugees goes against values embraced by the EU. He noted in particular Hungary's anti-migrant barrier

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said yesterday that the attitude of some eastern European countries towards the migrant crisis facing the EU is "scandalous". He pointed in particular to an anti-migrant barrier in Hungary.

"When I see a certain number of European countries, particularly in the east, who do not accept quotas (of migrants), I find it scandalous," he told Europe 1 radio.

People fleeing war and persecution must be welcomed into France, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said yesterday.

"Each asylum demand must be examined rapidly," he told members of his ruling Socialist Party gathered at a party conference in the western town of La Rochelle.

Migrants and refugees who "are fleeing war, persecution, torture, oppression, must be welcomed", he said, adding that the rule should be to treat them with "dignity".

Meanwhile, thousands of people took to the streets of the German city of Dresden to send a message of welcome to refugees, following a string of violent anti-migrant protests in the region.

Many celebrities have also declared their support for people seeking new lives in Germany.

"Dear refugees, it's good that you're here," German Real Madrid player Toni Kroos said in comments reported by the press, "because it allows us to test our values and show respect to others."

Actor Til Schweiger is another prominent pro-migrant voice in German showbusiness.

Rock singer Udo Lindenberg is hoping to organise a major concert in Berlin against anti-migrant hate, slated for Oct 4.

Led by protesters holding a huge banner that read, "Prevent the pogroms of tomorrow today", crowds marched peacefully through Dresden under the watch of police officers in riot gear.

"Say it loud, say it clear - refugees are welcome here," they chanted repeatedly.

The police said 1,000 people joined the protest, which was called by the Anti-Nazi Alliance. The rally organisers put the numbers at 5,000.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2015, with the headline 'Migrant crisis: France, Germany, Britain push for urgent meeting'. Print Edition | Subscribe