German Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer, has warned of growing numbers of migrants trying to reach Europe via the so-called Balkan route.
The mass movement of people through Balkan countries was one of the factors that precipitated Europe’s migration crisis in 2015/16.
These migrants – many fleeing conflicts in the Middle East – travelled through Turkey to Greece or Bulgaria, and then through the countries of the former Yugoslavia, Hungary and Austria to northern Europe.
`It is apparent that the migration numbers are rising significantly, in particular on the Balkan route,’’ Seehofer told dpa.
The minister is from the Bavaria-based Christian Social Union party, which had the first-hand experience of the migration crisis on its southern border with Austria and the Czech Republic.
“We must do something, so we do not get back to alarming levels of migrants,’’ he said.
He gave a figure of 200,000 migrants per year as a level that could be accepted in Germany without “social or political problems’’.
Last year, the number of asylum applications was just over half this figure.
Seehofer has planned to take a step back from front-line politics after the next elections in September.
But he said he was “convinced” that the issue of migration was bound to occupy his successor as interior minister also.
The interview was conducted before Seehofer went into isolation due to coronavirus infection. (Dpa/NAN)