02:44 GMT +316 October 2019
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    Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban (L) points at Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydlo during an extraordinary Visegrad Group summit aimed at resolving the migration crisis in Prague, Czech Republic, February 15, 2016.

    Iron Curtain Plan Puts Visegrad on Collision Course With Brussels & Athens

    © REUTERS / David W Cerny
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    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)

    A plan by the Visegrad group of countries - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - together with Bulgaria and Macedonia have called for urgent action to close the Macedonian and Bulgarian borders with Greece to deal with the refugee crisis.

    The plan — which sources at the Visegrad meeting in Prague Monday described as a new 'iron curtain' — would effectively strand Greece outside of the Schengen area. Any such move would put them at odds with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who are calling for Schengen to continue and for a pan-European solution to the crisis.

    The leaders of the six nations meeting in Prague said progress on the agreement with Turkey to accept US$3.35 billion from the EU to shore-up its borders to slow the flow of migrants was not progressing fast enough. They called for "rapid and credible results of the implementation of the European Union-Turkey Joint Action Plan".

    Faster Action Urged

    "The role of the Hellenic Republic [Greece] remains pivotal for migration flows management in the Balkans region. The Prime Ministers of the Visegrad Group countries acknowledge all the efforts by the Greek authorities in that respect and stand ready to provide them with continuous support. If implementation of further measures aimed at strengthening external border protection in the Balkans region prove necessary, it may bring additional impacts on the Hellenic Republic," a statement by the Visegrad group said.

    In less diplomatic terms, they say they will secure the north Greek borders with Macedonia and Bulgaria if not enough action is taken to stem the flow of migrants through Turkey and if more positive action is not taken to alleviate the crisis within the Balkan region.

    Moreover, the statement said action needed to be agreed at an EU summit in March — giving the Greek and Turkish authorities little time to implement their plans. "The weeks before the March European Council will indicate whether the specific measures taken produce satisfactory results so as to avoid repeating the events of 2015," the statement said.

    The UN refugee agency, UNHCR warned:

    "Clearly States have a sovereign right to manage their borders; however, this must be done in accordance with national, EU and international law. The possible damaging impact of individual measures and practices on the rights and lives of refugees has to be considered."

    Major Migrant Crisis in Europe (1819)


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    Schengen borders, free movement, border control, migrant crisis, summit, humanitarian crisis, refugees, migration, Visegrad Group (V4) countries, European Union, Europe
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