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German FM Steinmeier demands 'fair distribution' of refugees

At the start of the Western Balkans summit in Vienna, the German Foreign Minister urged all EU states to 'do their homework' in Europe's refugee crisis. He called for a 'fair distribution' of refugees.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier made the comments, which were also tweeted by the German Foreign Office, at an opening news conference for the summit on Thursday morning. He also said that the EU needed to ensure "humane standards" for refugees.

Steinmeier said that without a "fair distribution" of refugees, the EU would jeopardize the support of the people in those countries that take in the lion's share of refugees in Europe.

He also urged financial assistance for Western Balkan countries like Serbia and Macedonia, who have been struggling to cope with the

huge number of migrants

trying to cross their borders en route to EU territory.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz recently suggested a five-point plan for an EU-wide refugee policy.

He demands "more speed and action" from EU states for an "integrated approach." He calls for better cooperation of police forces, buffer zones and EU refugee camps in conflict regions that would allow refugees to apply for asylum outside EU territory. He also suggests a concerted EU effort to define countries of safe origin and calls for a Brussels summit on the issue.

Steinmeier and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel also published

their own 10-point plan

over the weekend.

The Western Balkans Conference was established in 2013 as a forum aimed at improving ties with Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia, Motenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo. This year, however, the refugee crisis dominates the agenda.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Austrian counterpart, Werner Faymann, are also attending.

ng/msh (AFP, dpa)

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