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Austria, Balkan Countries Meet to Unite Against Merkel's Migration Policy

© REUTERS / Peter BaderMigrants queue on the platform, waiting for a train at Vienna west railway station, Austria September 13, 2015
Migrants queue on the platform, waiting for a train at Vienna west railway station, Austria September 13, 2015 - Sputnik International
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The governments of Austria and the countries along the Balkan migration route have met in Vienna to discuss measures that will reduce the number of migrants coming to Europe; however, Germany or Greece weren't invited.

Refugees stand inside a bus arriving from the Bavarian town of Landshut to the Chancellery building in Berlin, Germany, January 14, 2016 - Sputnik International
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A conference was hosted by the Austrian government in Vienna and attended by countries on the Balkan migration route. The fact that Germany, Greece and the EU weren't invited to send representatives is a signal of disunity within the EU regarding the refugee and migrant crisis,  German Economic News (DWN) reported on Wednesday.

"After the failure of Angela Merkel's quota plans numerous other states have decided to bypass them and plan their refugee policy without German participation: Austria has agreed on measures for the immediate closure of the Balkan route with the Balkan states," DWN wrote.

The newspaper remarked that "this will also benefit Germany," quoting German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble, who said prior to the G20 conference in Shanghai this week that "the number of refugees must fall dramatically, or we will not be able to handle it anymore." 

The German news agency DPA called the Vienna meeting, which was officially entitled "Managing Migration Together," a "foreclosure signal from Vienna," and reported Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz as saying that the purpose of the conference is to "send a clear signal that we will reduce the flow (of migrants)."

The Vienna conference was attended by the foreign and interior ministers of Austria, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia, in the hope of reaching an agreement between them about restrictions on migration to Europe.

"What we want is a chain reaction of reason," Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said.

"We want to generate pressure and pace in order to come to a European solution … this is about the security and stability of Europe," she explained.

German national broadcaster Tagesschau highlighted that no representatives from Germany, Greece or the EU were invited to the meeting, and that Austria also intends to include countries that may become part of alternative migration routes, like Bulgaria and Albania.

"Since there is no willingness in Greece to cooperate as we would wish, we are now trying to cooperate with the west Balkan countries," Kurz explained, Tagesschau reported.

"Macedonia has also declared it will take on this great responsibility to stop the flow of refugees at the Macedonian-Greek border as much as possible with international help," Kurz said.

A Hungarian police officer watches as migrants arrive at the train station in Hegyeshalom, Hungary, October 6, 2015 - Sputnik International
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As well as "resistance from Vienna," DPA also reported that "the conservative Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban has attacked Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel's refugee strategy head-on," by ordering a referendum on the issue of EU quotas that are requiring his country to take 160,000 asylum seekers.

"Until now nobody has asked the people of Europe whether they want to have mandatory quotas for the forced resettlement of migrants or whether they reject it," Orban told a press conference in Budapest on Wednesday.

The prime minister explained that the referendum will ask Hungarians, "Do you agree that the EU can make a mandatory requirement for the settlement of non-Hungarians in Hungary, even if the parliament does not agree?"

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