The huge flow of refugees to Europe via Turkey must be slowed, the interior ministers of France and Germany said Friday after inspecting registration facilities in Greece.
The goal “cannot just be to register arriving refugees and to relocate them equitably (but above all) to reduce the flow,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said at the close of the two-day visit.
De Maiziere and his French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve stressed that there was room for improvement in coordinating security databases on Europe’s borders.
Data from the passport-free Schengen zone must include “terrorism (records) by police and intelligence agencies, and conditions must be created to link the Schengen system to other criminal records,” Cazeneuve told reporters.
Facing its gravest migration challenge since World War II and beset with internal divisions on the issue, the European Union has been struggling for a response to the crisis since last year.
Greece, which is handling the bulk of refugee arrivals from neighbouring Turkey, has pledged to speed up the completion of registration centres known as hotspots after coming under strong criticism from Brussels last month.
The Greek army has been brought in to overcome delays in finishing the hotspots on the five principal Aegean Sea islands that saw over 800,000 arrivals last year.
Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos has promised that the hotspots will be operational by February 15.
The hotspots have been held up by bureaucratic delays and in the case of Kos island, strong opposition from the locals.
On Friday, local residents attempted to stop construction work on the facility and clashed with riot police, the state Athens News Agency said.