Angela Merkel at the Western Balkans Summit

Combat illegality, strengthen legality

The Chancellor sees progress in the fight against illegal migration. The number of incoming refugees has decreased compared with the situation eleven months ago, and processes have been improved, she said at the end of the Western Balkans meeting in Vienna.

Working session of the heads of state and government in the Grand Hall of the Council of Ministers in Vienna
Merkel: "We want to combat illegality and strengthen legality" Photo Bundesregierung/Steins

"Our goal must be to stop illegal migration as far as possible" Merkel declared. In order to achieve this, the EU-Turkey Agreement and its implementation are essential. The last conditions which have not yet been met must therefore be discussed with Turkey.

We must also help Greece to return refugees arriving illegally. There are capacity problems in this area. "Today, we talked very specifically about how we could better support Greece with European officials", said the Chancellor. This also includes strengthening the European Borders Agency Frontex, which the participating states of the Western Balkans Conference welcomed.

Furthermore, migrants having been granted the right to stay should be distributed through Europe more rapidly, demanded the Chancellor. At the same time, repatriation of asylum seekers without prospects of being recognised as refugees must be improved. To this end, Mutual Recognition Agreements must be concluded quickly with African countries as well as with Afghanistan and Pakistan. Indeed, one thing needs to be clear: "Whoever cannot stay in Europe on humanitarian grounds will be repatriated."

Migration along the Balkan Route

The aim of the "Migration along the Balkan Route" summit in Vienna was to produce a joint assessment of the current situation regarding migration policy and to discuss the future challenges facing the states directly concerned.

The heads of government of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Albania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece, as well as the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, were also among the guests.

The last Western Balkans meeting with this format was held in Brussels in October 2015 at the invitation of European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. At the time, the participants had agreed to meet massive migration movements with a determined, transnational approach - in a European spirit based on solidarity between all states involved.

Bratislava road map: a common policy on migration

At their informal meeting in Bratislava on 16 September 2016, the heads of state and government of the 27 EU member states had once again enumerated their priorities for a common policy on migration in the so-called Bratislava road map:

• Ending uncontrolled migration movements
• Ensuring full control over the external borders
• Returning to Schengen
• Putting in place a long-term common policy on migration based on the principles of responsibility and solidarity.



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