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German FM Warns Against Renewed Balkan Conflicts

  • VOA News

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says in Berlin, Oct. 21, 2015, that Europe should make sure the movement of refugees did not spark new conflicts in the Balkan region.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says in Berlin, Oct. 21, 2015, that Europe should make sure the movement of refugees did not spark new conflicts in the Balkan region.

Germany's foreign minister stressed the imperative for containing any renewed conflicts between former Yugoslav countries because of disputes over Europe's immigration crisis.

Speaking in Berlin after a meeting with his Finnish counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Europe should make sure the movement of refugees did not spark new conflicts in the Balkan region.

"We have to make sure, first of all, that the movement of refugees does not carry new conflicts into a region, where we have worked so hard in recent years to calm the conflict situation after the dissolution of Yugoslavia, and to bring the countries to a peaceful cooperation. There must be no backward development," he said.

Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini also said the migrant crisis required strong and long cooperation within the European Union to deal with such major influx of migrants and refugees.

"The solution to this problem [migrant crisis] requires a long-term cooperation. The most important thing is that the securing of the outer borders of the member states of the European Union works, and we've agreed that Frontex needs to be strengthened, we need rules to work with," said Soini.

Emergency meeting

Meanwhile, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has called an emergency meeting of EU and Balkan leaders, as the crowds of migrants fleeing the Middle East and Africa continue to flood into the western Balkans.

“In view of the unfolding emergency in the countries along the Western Balkans migratory route, there is a need for much greater cooperation, more extensive consultation and immediate operational action,” an EC statement said.

Juncker has invited the heads of state of 10 countries - Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania and Slovenia, including non-EU members Macedonia and Serbia, to convene on Sunday, October 25 in Brussels to strategize. Officials from the U.N. refugee agency have also been invited to attend.

People wait to clear a police line at a registration center for migrants and refugees in Opatovac, Croatia, Oct. 21, 2015.

People wait to clear a police line at a registration center for migrants and refugees in Opatovac, Croatia, Oct. 21, 2015.

Thousands of asylum seekers have entered Slovenia from Croatia since Saturday, forcing the country to deal with a surge of migration on its southern border.

Most of migrant and refugees that have landed on the Balkan countries are fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia for a better life in Germany, Sweden or other prosperous countries of Western Europe that are more sympathetic to asylum seekers.

Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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