"Those who come to Europe for quite understandable but still economic reasons that have nothing to do with the right to seek asylum have to stay in Italy and Greece, the so-called hotspots, and be repatriated from there," German interior chief Thomas de Maiziere told reporters during a joint press conference with his French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve.
EU interior ministers met in Luxembourg to address the migrant crisis after they came under pressure from Italy and Greece — two countries that have been forced to accommodate thousands of undocumented asylum seekers since early 2015. Due to their location on the Mediterranean Sea, they are often the first point of entry to the European Union, lying on popular migrant routes from North Africa.
Thomas de Maiziere said that Berlin was ready to stand by Rome and Athens and help them resettle genuine asylum seekers.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve reiterated Maiziere's tone, saying France would oppose "economic irregular migration" from outside Europe. He also refuted allegations that France has closed its border with Italy for migrants, citing migration rules.
On Monday, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi threatened to issue visas to thousands of undocumented asylum seekers, should Brussels fails to redistribute them equally across the European Union. The bloc plans to resettle some 60,000 migrants across the union to share responsibility for the migrants more equally among member states.