Press TV — Nov 27, 2015
The Dutch prime minister has voiced alarm about the inflow of refugees that keep shaking European Union (EU) borders, saying the 28-nation bloc faces the risk of collapsing like the Roman Empire.
Mark Rutte, whose country gears up to be the next EU president, warned that the growing rift between EU states over the refugee crisis and the threats facing their borders could cause the union to break apart, the Financial Times quoted him as saying on Thursday.
“The first step is to make sure the border is controlled. As we all know from the Roman Empire, big empires go down if the borders are not well protected,” Rutte said, speaking to a small group of reporters in his office in The Hague.
The comments came as the Netherlands prepares to assume the six-month rotating presidency of the EU on January 1. The government in Amsterdam has vowed to focus its efforts on resolving the refugee crisis as one of the top priorities.
“We need to stem the flow of migrants coming to Europe. We can’t continue at the present level,” said the Dutch leader.
Europe is facing the worst refugee crisis since World War II as more than 850,000 people have entered the EU countries this year with nearly half of them entering Greece.
Most of the refugees are from Middle East and Africa, where a Western-backed militancy as well as a rise in poverty has caused many to escape their homelands.
The refugee crisis in Europe has already exposed the loopholes in the EU’s border deal, known as the Schengen. Some members, including France, have been demanding drastic revisions in the rules governing the borders in the 26-country passport-free zone, but Dutch officials have promised to do their utmost to protect the agreement.
“I think it is one of our first tasks to make sure that Schengen remains functioning,” Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said on Wednesday.
This is while many of the EU states have come under fire for their mistreatment of asylum seekers at the borders, where they have been grappling with dire living conditions in refugee camps.
In an interview with China’s Phoenix TV channel earlier this month, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose country’s violence-stricken nationals make up a large portion of the asylum seekers arriving in Europe, blamed the Western support for terror groups as the main reason behind the ongoing refugee crisis.