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German President Gauck urges common solution to refugee crisis

Joachim Gauck has pleaded with members of the EU to come up with a common solution to the refugee crisis. His comments come shortly after Austria and several Balkan countries decided to restrict entry to migrants.

"It cannot be that the European Union dismantles itself, and the decades-long project of European integration shatters because of the refugee problem," German President Joachim Gauck said on Friday in Berlin.

The desire to choose common goals was too weak right now, he added.

"A Europe that does not unify its political weight will not be able to contribute effectively in reducing and fighting against the reasons why people are fleeing," Gauck said.

The president, who traditionally serves as a moral compass in a largely ceremonial position, also referred to EU member states like Austria and Balkan countries including Macedonia, that blocked the entry of refugees into their territories. Hundreds of migrants were stranded in Greece (pictured above) as a result.

He warned government against anti-migrant propaganda and urged them to take decisive steps against xenophobia.

Infografik Karte Flüchtlingsfeindliche Vorfälle 2016 EN

"Do not direct your dissatisfaction and your anger against those who are much weaker and vulnerable than you are. Isolate hate mongers, violent criminals and incendiaries. If you want to protest, follow the rules," Gauck told the audience.

He also said citizens could raise their voices against town mayors, members of parliament and ministers, "but then also listen to what they have to tell you," he said.

Gauck's speech at an international forum comes shortly after a video emerged showing anti-migrant protestors angrily demonstrating in front of a bus full of refugees in the Saxon town of Clausnitz. Two days later, a planned refugee shelter was caught fire in Bautzen, also in Saxony. Police reported a group of onlookers cheering on as the building burnt and blocking firefighters from extinguishing the blaze.

mg/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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