Posted: 23/3/2017



Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said his country does not have the capacity nor the financial means to take back refugees from Germany and other northern European countries.

“Some EU countries think that they can use Italy and Greece as closed boxes, where refugees can be stored,” Kotzias told newspaper Die Welt in an interview published Thursday.

The comments follow German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière’s announcement he would return rejected asylum seekers to Greece after the country’s asylum system had improved. Germany had stopped deportations to Greece in 2011 following deficiencies in the system.

The European Commission had also proposed reintroducing the so-called Dublin rules on March 15, forcing refugees to claim asylum in the country where they first entered Europe.

“This is not European thinking,” Kotzias said, ahead of a meeting with his German colleague Sigmar Gabriel on Thursday in Athens.

“Greece has shown great humanity in the reception of refugees. But a new wave of refugees this summer would overwhelm us. Greece is at the limit of its potential,” he said, and called for more support from EU member countries in dealing with the refugee crisis.

Over the past year, tens of thousands of refugees have arrived in Greece, making their way from the Middle East to Europe. In the first months of 2017, 3,000 refugees arrived in the country.