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Germany and Austria call for EU summit on refugee crisis


Germany and Austria have jointly called for an emergency summit of EU leaders to find a solution to the influx of asylum-seekers into Europe amidst further deepening of the divisions among its members over the the humanitarian crisis.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after a meeting with her Austrian counterpart Werner Faymann in Berlin on Tuesday said that they have proposed to European Council president Donald Tusk to convene a meting of the heads of state and government of the 28-nation bloc next week.

"This problem can be solved only through a collective European effort," she said at a joint press conference with Faymann.This is a responsibility for the entire EU," she said.

The two leaders met a day after the EU interior ministers failed to reach an agreement on a binding quota for the relocation of around 120,000 refugees from Italy, Greece and Hungary.

"The proposed summit will not be about relocating thousands of refugees, but to examine how the EU can work together to tackle the root causes of the mass migration and how the refugees can be better protected in their countries of origin. This will require enormous effort", she said.

The summit should also discuss how to enhance cooperation with Turkey in finding a solution to the crisis, Merkel said.

With around 2 million people, Turkey has the largest number of refugees who fled the fighting in Syria.

Turkey is also one of the transit routes for thousands of migrants trying to reach Germany and northern Europe through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria.

The two leaders also want the summit to finalise plans for the setting up of "hot spots" (reception centres) for the registration of asylum-seekers in Greece and in Italy, she added.

Merkel defended her government’s decision last week to re-introduce border controls, especially along the country’s border with Austria, saying this was necessary to enable the registration of asylum-seekers and to facilitate and orderly entry into this country.

"Germany, Austria and Sweden alone cannot carry the burden of tens of thousands of asylum-seekers streaming into Europe and therefore a collective European effort is needed to deal with the crisis.

"We should not put our head in the sand," Faymann said.