Greece recalls its ambassador to Vienna over refugee logjam

Greece protests Austria by recalling its ambassador to Vienna as tensions between two countries remain high over border restrictions

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Tensions are running high between Austria and Greece ahead of Wednesday's conference in Vienna on strategies to reduce refugee flow.

Greece recalled its ambassador to Vienna after Balkan countries continued their border restrictions ignoring the country’s warnings over possible refugee logjam on its border.

The move to recall the ambassador came after Greece was excluded from the meeting of Balkan states in Vienna on Wednesday to coordinate border restrictions to stop the massive refugee influx.

Following the meeting, Greece accused Austria of an "unfriendly act."

Greece's Foreign Ministry backed the decision saying that the ambassador was being recalled "in order to safeguard the friendly relations between the states and the people of Greece and Austria."

Migration Minister Yannis Mouzalas said "Greece will not become a Lebanon or a warehouse of souls," referring to the Middle Eastern country which is currently hosting more than one million Syrian civil war refugees.

According to Greek officials, more than 20,000 refugees were stranded in the country after the border restrictions across the region began with Austria.

Austria announced last week that it will limit the number of refugees coming into the country at 3,200 per year and will only accept 80 asylum applications per day.

Refugees have cost Greece more than half a billion euros this year, equivalent to about 0.4 percent of its economic output as the country is struggling to cope with its worst financial crisis in generations.

"It's a conservative estimate. Costs could go up if there is increased inflow and refugees become logjammed in Greece due to border closures," said a central bank source.

TRTWorld and agencies