EU interior ministers will hold an emergency meeting Tuesday in hopes of bridging a deep rift over Europe`s worst migrant crisis since World War II, a day afterHungary gave its army drastic new powers to protect its borders.
Tuesday`s meeting will see ministers discuss controversial binding quotas to relocate 120,000 refugees around the bloc from frontline states after they failed to reach a deal last week, and ahead of a bloc-wide emergency summit opening Wednesday.
On the eve of the meetings, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to leaders across the 28-nation bloc, urging them to “show leadership and compassion” as the continent grapples with the wave of migrants, many of them refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.
He said he was “extremely concerned” about the deteriorating situation, with European borders being closed, the lack of proper facilities to receive newcomers and the increased use of detention against them.
And Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for responsibility to be shared, saying “otherwise there is no point in talking about a united Europe”.
The comments came as Hungary said it was broadening the military`s powers to block the entry of migrants seeking passage to northern Europe.
Hundreds of thousands of people have already made it into western Europe this year, heaping pressure on countries along the migrant trail, some of whom have closed their borders, while others have sought to divert the flow elsewhere.
After sealing off its southern border with Serbia last week and passing a series of tough new anti-migrant laws, Hungary on Monday approved further legislation allowing the army to participate in border control.
It also gave troops the right to use rubber bullets, tear gas and net guns at the border “in a non-lethal way, unless it cannot be avoided”.
Last week, other legislation came into force allowing Hungary to jail anyone caught crossing the border illegally, which carries a maximum fine of five years in prison.
Migrants are “overrunning” Europe, with the continent`s borders and way of life under threat, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban told MPs.
“They`re not just banging on the door, they`re breaking the door down on top of us.
“Our borders are in danger, our way of life built on respect for the law, Hungary and the whole of Europe is in danger.”The crisis has exposed deep rifts within the European Union, particularly between members in the former communist east and the wealthier west, the migrants` preferred destination.
Top diplomats from Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, all of whom have rejected the EU proposal for binding quotas, met in Prague Monday with their counterpart from Luxembourg, which holds the EU presidency.