Berlin (AFP) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday criticised an eastern European proposal to close the Balkans refugee route and vowed to push for a plan with Turkey to reduce the influx at an EU summit.
Merkel, under heavy pressure at home to reduce arrivals, supports a plan under which transit country Turkey would seal its borders and then fly refugees to Europe where they would be settled under an EU quota system.
However, most countries in the European Union have shown little enthusiasm for the idea, and the so-called Visegrad Four -- Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary -- have openly defied Merkel.
They have pledged to help Macedonia and Bulgaria close their borders with Greece, which would leave Greece with rapidly rising numbers of refugees while effectively excluding it from Europe's passport-free Schengen zone.
Merkel hit back Tuesday, saying: "Do we really want to give up already and close the Greek-Macedonian-Bulgarian border, with all the consequences this would have for Greece and the European Union as a whole and therefore the Schengen area?"
At a two-day EU summit in Brussels starting Thursday, she said, "I will focus all my strength ... on making the European-Turkish approach the path that will be taken". ...