Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann rejected an offer from the Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa for the country to accept 5,800 more refugees than its quota of 4,500, Anadolu reported on Tuesday.
Austrian TV reported Faymann saying: “It is not possible for the refugees to travel 2,000km from Greece to Austria, then they travel again 2,000km to Portugal.” He also stressed the importance of distributing the refugees on the external borders of the EU.
Costa last week sent letters to Austria, Greece, Italy and Sweden, countries that have seen refugees arrive in large numbers, offering to welcome up to 5,800 more refugees in addition to the 4,500 Portugal already agreed to take as part of the EU’s refugee quota system, AFP reported.
On Friday, during a meeting on the margin of the EU summit, Costa asked Faymann if it is possible to transfer a number of the refugees from Austria to Portugal, noting that between 2,500 and 3,000 refugees would work in farming, 2,000 would be accepted as students and 800 in vocational training.
After a government meeting, Faymann held a press conference in Vienna on Tuesday and said: “One country alone cannot bear the whole responsibility.” He described the measures taken by his country to face the crisis as “exceptional”.
He defended Austria’s policies, rejecting EU and German criticism.
Faymann stressed the importance of an agreement between the EU and Turkey in order to stop the refugee influx to Europe.