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'France not favourable to Germany’s refugee proposal'

Prime minister Manuel Valls said France cannot take in more than 30,000 refugees.
Prime minister Manuel Valls said France cannot take in more than 30,000 refugees. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

France is not favorable to a permanent mechanism for sharing refugees in the European Union as proposed by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Saturday.

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Speaking during a media interaction at the Munich Security Conference, Valls said that the European Union must get the message that we can no longer welcome more refugees.

“We are not in favor of a permanent relocation mechanism. The time now is to implement what has been discussed, negotiated … hot spots (registration centres for migrants arriving in the EU) external border controls etc.,” he said.

Valls’ remarks come just a few days before the summit of EU leaders in Brussels on 18 and 19 February that is expected to address the unprecedented influx of migrants to Europe since 1945.

“France has agreed to take in 30,000 refugees. As far as these 30,000 are concerned, our doors remain open. But not more," he said, while recognizing that these figures might seem insignificant compared to the number of refugees in Germany.

Merkel, who is seeking to establish a “coalition of the willing” to host migrants and refugees, said on Friday that an EU country group could agree to allocate more refugees than the number agreed so far, on the condition that Turkey intensifies its fight against illegal migration.

French President Francois Hollande had said in September that he was in favour of a permanent mechanism for refugees after the outpouring of emotion caused by the photo of three year old Aylan Kurdi who was found drowned on a beach in southern Turkey.

But the French position gradually hardened amid deepening crisis of migrants and after the November 13 attacks. Manuel Valls reiterated this firm line on Saturday.

“We must be realistic: Which countries will welcome more migrants? Sweden, Denmark, Finland have already welcomed a lot… The UK, I don’t need to draw a picture ... Italy, which can any time be faced with a new wave coming from Libya?” he questioned.

“I do not think there is a majority in Europe to impose a permanent relocation mechanism. The solutions are in the Levant, Turkey, Jordan and the Mediterranean. But there is a very clear message that says: Now, we can no longer welcome more refugees,” he said.

“Otherwise,” he warned, “we shall have to re-establish internal borders.”
 

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