Refugee crisis has put EU 'at crossroads': German minister
Germany's foreign minister said Tuesday the refugee crisis had put Europe "at a crossroads" and urged member states to show "solidarity" by taking in more asylum-seekers.
"The European Union is facing its most severe endurance test in 60 years of European integration," Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Berlin.
The eurozone crisis and the massive migrant influx had both shown that "Europe is at a crossroads -- between a continent where we fall back into a logic of turnpikes and national self-interest, or a continent which holds together and acts together".
"The right to asylum is not only a German basic right but, if I remember correctly, a European fundamental right," he said in a speech at political institute the Koerber Foundation.
Germany, the EU's biggest economy, this year looks set to take in one million people fleeing war and misery in what the government has said is its biggest challenge at least since national reunification a quarter-century ago.
"It cannot be that four or five member states receive 90 percent of the refugees alone," charged Steinmeier. "That doesn't match my understanding of solidarity.
"Instead we need a permanent mechanism for the fair distribution of asylum seekers in Europe."
Steinmeier said the massive influx from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other trouble spots had put Europe's other problems in perspective.
"In the spring and summer, the Greek crisis kept us in suspense," he said.
"Many felt it was the greatest test Europe had ever known. That perception did not last very long. Just a few months later, we are facing a much bigger task.
He pointed out that "worldwide more people are on the run than the United Nations has ever counted".
"And the question of how we here in Europe deal with the asylum-seekers touches on the very core of what constitutes our European community -- humanity and solidarity."
© 2015 AFP