24-05-2022 08:09 AM Jerusalem Timing

Greece Rejects Austrian Minister’s Visit in Ongoing Migration Row

Greece Rejects Austrian Minister’s Visit in Ongoing Migration Row

Greece has refused a visit request by Austria’s interior minister, officials said Friday, fuelling an ongoing row with Vienna over its handling of the migration crisis.

Greece has refused a visit request by Austria's interior minister, officials said Friday, fuelling an ongoing row with Vienna over its handling of the migration crisis.

A foreign ministry source confirmed a report in state agency ANA that a visit request by Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner had been turned down.

Greece and Austria flagsThis came a day after Greece recalled its ambassador to Vienna for consultations in retaliation to Austria's decision to leave Athens out of a Balkans migration meeting this week.

Austria has repeatedly accused Greece of failing to police its borders properly and allowing an excessively high number of migrants to continue their journey northwards.

At a meeting of EU interior ministers on Thursday, Mikl-Leitner called into question Greece's place in the passport-free Schengen zone.

"If it is really the case that the Greek external border cannot be protected, can it be still a Schengen external border?" she wondered.

An angry Greek migration minister Yiannis Mouzalas later retorted that Mikl-Leitner was "falsifying the truth" and "dragging Austria into increasingly hostile acts towards Greece and the EU."

"Our country guards its borders, which are also Europe's borders, in the best possible way. This is a fact confirmed by (EU border agency) Frontex, the European Commission and other institutions," Mouzalas said in a statement.

Greece believes Austria has encouraged a series of border restrictions by Balkan states along the migrant trail to northern and western Europe that has caused a bottleneck on its soil.

Thousands of refugees have been stranded in Greece after Macedonia denied all passage to Afghans and ramped up document controls for Syrians and Iraqis.