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German politicians blast Greece over refugee crisis

Germany's finance minister, along with a senior Bavarian politician have criticized Greece over its role in Europe's migration crisis. Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann has called for more border control.

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who has come head-to-head with Greek officials this year over the country's economic policy, told Germany's "Bild am Sonntag" newspaper that Athens has long ignored the rules obliging migrants to file for asylum in the first European Union country they arrive in.

German courts, Schäuble was quoted as saying in the Sunday paper, had concluded some time ago that refugees were being treated inhumanely in Greece and were therefore not able to be sent back there.

"The Greeks should not put the blame for their problems only on others, they should also see how they can do better themselves," Schäuble said.

Greece is the main entry point to Europe for migrants crossing the Aegean Sea and has long been criticized by other EU governments who contest it has done little to manage the hundreds of thousands of migrants arriving on its coast.

'It's a farce'

Joachim Herrmann, the interior minister for the southern state of Bavaria, which has been the entry point for the largest portion of refugees in Germany, is also critical of the way Greece is securing its external borders.

"What Greece is doing is a farce," Herrmann was quoted as saying in an interview with German weekly newspaper "Welt am Sonntag." Any country, he added, that does not meet its obligations to secure its external borders should leave the Schengen zone, where internal border controls have been eradicated.

Portrait of Joachim Herrmann

Herrmann: Let Bavaria take the reins on border control

Frontex, the European Union's border agency, has agreed to step up its presence in Greece at the end of the month, while European guards will help Greeks manage state lines with Macedonia following fears over Athens' commitment to manage migration.

The paper also reported Herrmann as saying it was important the border with Slovenia also be secured so all people entering the Schengen zone from Croatia could be properly registered and potential terrorists flagged.

"If this is not guaranteed within a few weeks, we will have to become active on our own borders," he added.

'Bavaria should take the reins'

Bavaria, Herrmann added, should take control of its own borders, as thousands of refugees continued to enter the southern state every day.

The interior minister blamed personnel shortages for the federal government's inability to stem the flow of migrants across the border into Germany. For that reason, he said, Bavaria's regional government should take the reins.

"Here we would like to play an active role and control the borders," Herrmann told the newspaper, adding he had "no understanding" why the federal government was opposed to the idea.

As many as 4,000 refugees cross the border into Bavaria every day, according to Herrmann. He said the federal government must work with the Bavarians to ensure that number was reduced to an average of some 1,000 refugees per day.

"We would be able to accommodate and integrate a good 350,000 refugees in 2016. But not over a million," he said.

jlw/se (EPD, Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)

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