Struggling with a growing logjam of refugees, Greece recalled its ambassador to Vienna in protest at moves by Austria and Balkan states to make it harder for migrants to head north across Europe. The unusual step reflected Greek fury at being excluded from a meeting of Balkan states in Vienna on Wednesday to coordinate border restrictions across the region to limit the flow. “Greece will not become a Lebanon or a warehouse of souls,” said migration minister Yannis Mouzalas. Lebanon, a country of 4 million people, is hosting more than 1 million refugees from the civil war in neighbouring Syria. Greek officials estimated there were 20,000 refugees and migrants trapped in the country as a result of the new restrictions, which began when Austria announced on Feb. 18 it would let in no more than 3,200 people a day and cap daily asylum claims at 80. On Tuesday, Athens accused Vienna of an ‘unfriendly act’. The move to recall the envoy for consultations was designed to “safeguard friendly relations between the states and the people of Greece and Austria”, a foreign ministry statement said. Unilateral initiatives and violations of international and European laws by EU member states threatened to “undermine the very foundations of European unification”, the ministry said. The Austrian foreign ministry said it could be an opportunity for the recalled ambassador to inform Greeks of the situation, and the challenges for countries lying along the migrant route such as Austria.
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