Alexis Tsipras said he was open to a special agreement with Angela Merkel to make it easier for Germany to send asylum seekers back to other European countries, including Greece.
Speaking to the Financial Times, the Greek premier said is prepared to sign a deal to curtail the “secondary movement” of refugees that arrive at the EU’s southern border but then journey north to Germany.
“We don’t care about the fact that maybe we’ll have some returns from Germany if this will help, in order to give the signal to the smugglers [that Europe is tackling illegal migration flows],” Tsipras was quoted as saying.
Tsipras said that any agreement with Germany would not have significant knock-on effects on Greece given that only between 50-100 people asylum seekers a month are crossing the country’s northern border. “For us it is not the problem,” he said.
“We have to find a way, in the framework of the international law, to share the burden and to not have this unfair position for the frontline countries but also for Germany,” he said. “Because it’s not fair all these people to go to Germany, if we believe that this is a European problem.”
EU leaders will gather in Brussels on Thursday for the second summit meeting in five days where migration policy — and specifically Merkel’s need to extract concessions from other countries — will dominate the agenda.