Balkan route to be closed for good?

Close borders, ramp up Frontex - at a refugee summit in Vienna eleven EU member states have agreed on measures aimed at stopping irregular migration along the Balkan route for good. Some journalists see the decisions as progress, while for others closing more doors is tantamount to capitulation.

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Handelsblatt (DE) /

Protecting outer borders is the right step

The refugee summit marks a turning point, writes Handelsblatt:

“With better protection of EU outer borders - in particular the Southeast European flank in Bulgaria - a consensus has been reached despite the many conflicts of interest. Boosting manpower at the European border protection agency Frontex is a step in the right direction. … Despite all the gloomy predictions the agreement Merkel initiated with Turkey on the return of illegal refugees has proven its worth. We see this in the drastic reduction in the number of migrants crossing the Aegean to Greece. This political success must now be repeated. The chancellor's calls for return agreements to be signed as quickly as possible with other countries of the Middle East and Africa is a major step forward.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Fortress Europe becoming guiding principle

The EU is capitulating to the anti-refugee sentiment among leaders mostly in Eastern Europe, Corriere della Sera rails:

“The flag of the welcome policy is being rolled up and a guilty silence that sanctions the closing of national borders is replacing it. And what is worse is that scandalous meetings like that in Vienna on Saturday are taking place where the 'affected countries' declared that the Balkan route would remain closed forever. … As if the refugee routes were all separate rather than interconnected. As if the refugee problem wasn't everyone's problem - starting with Italy. Less than a year ago Angela Merkel opened the border, Sweden took in refugees and Italy and Greece saved migrants from certain death. … It was a trial of strength against the fortresses the Eastern Europeans have built. This trial of strength has gradually turned into stealthy consent: 'Stop the migration'.”

Ouest France (FR) /

Prepare tomorrow's peace

Welcoming refugees is an investment in the future, Ouest France believes:

“The flood of refugees won't stop as long as war rages, as long as people are burdened by misery, dictatorship, corruption and a lack of education. However these countries won't lose their entire populations. Migrants and refugees will have to rebuild their countries when peace returns. So let's not flee our responsibility, which is to respect the law and to help these people when they have nowhere else to go. Let us demonstrate humanity, while taking steps to destroy the human trafficking networks. Let us demonstrate imagination by helping them - when that day arrives - to return to their countries and rebuild them. Today's welcome paves the way for tomorrow's peace. These people's thanks for having been saved will weave stronger bonds than vengeful hatred.”