The recent developments in the European Union show that discord over the migrant crisis could end up fragmenting the EU, threatening to cut off their political oxygen to deal with other challenges, like Brexit or the Greek debt crisis.
A boy plays in a mud puddle at a makeshift camp of the Greek-Macedonian border near the Greek village of Idomeni, on March 8, 2016, where thousands of refugees and migrants are trapped by the Balkans border blockade.Dimitar Dilkoff | AFP | Getty Images
EU interior ministers are set to meet in Brussels on Thursday to discuss the migrant crisis after western Balkan nations slammed shut their borders (the Balkan route used by hundreds of thousands of people in recent months), exacerbating a dire humanitarian situation on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia frontier. The talks come after Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia barred entry to transiting migrants from midnight Wednesday.
On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel blamed European nations for "unilaterally" shutting the Balkan route for migrants, criticizing the de facto closure. "This is not the solution to the overall problem," she said at a meeting of her own party CDU in Bad Neuenahr, in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Mentioning the plight of refugees stranded in Greece, she said this will not go well in the long run and stressed: "We can not make nice in 27 countries and have a country dealing alone with the problem." It is important to find a European balance, she said, adding, "This will be a big task."
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Merkel's comments clashed with EU President Donald Tusk, who earlier had welcomed the change, saying the Balkan states were simply implementing an important part of the EU plan to tackle the refugee crisis. Alexis Tsipras, the Greek Prime Minister, came to the defense of Angela Merkel. He responded to Donald Tusk through Twitter, saying: "The Western Balkans route has come to an end due to unilateral actions by certain countries. EU has no future if it goes on like that."
The refugees throughout Greece are currently estimated at 41,973, according to data released Thursday by the Special Management Coordinating Body for Refugee Crisis, a special department set up by the Greek government.