Austria's Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz on Monday said in Sarajevo that European Union member states, including his country, did not have the capacity to receive as large a number of refugees as they did in 2015, underscoring that Macedonia cannot manage such a large influx of refugees alone and that the key to the problem lies in Greece.

He called for cooperation of all countries affected by the migrant crisis in an effort to effectively control that problem whereby averting any possible destabilisation of the western Balkans.

Sarajevo is Kurz's first stop on his regional tour of Balkan states affected by the migrant crisis, however, his talks with his hosts in the Bosnia and Herzegovina capital were dominated by European integration and bilateral relations.

Kurz told reporters that the refugee crisis was a problem for all EU member states and the western Balkans and that they had to act in unison, above all to prevent the uncontrolled influx of economic migrants.

We have to limit the inflow of refugees. Last year we received 90,000 people in Austria and this year we cannot. We are grateful to countries such as Macedonia for their cooperation however, unfortunately there has not been any progress in Greece, Kurz said, adding that it was unrealistic to expect Macedonia to manage the problem alone.

He added that the Greek government was not prepared to accept assistance from the EU to resolve the migrant crisis. Greece is the key to the problem, the Austrian minister said, because refugees can be safe there yet the government in Athens is simply passing them on to other EU member states.

Germany, Austria and Sweden cannot continue indefinitely to receive refugees. We have to stop uncontrolled migration, he said explaining that currently the objective is to relieve the burden on Macedonia otherwise the problem could spill over to the entire western Balkans.

The openness and welcoming in some European countries, Kurz claimed, has resulted in an uncontrolled increase in the number of refugees who have no future in the EU.

He confirmed that the current situation could lead to new routes for refugee.  This is too much of a challenge for us and we have to talk on time about possibly opening new routes so that no misunderstanding between us can emerge, he said after conducting separate talks with the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, the country's Prime Minister Denis Zvizdic and Foreign Minister Igor Crnadak.

Kurz confirmed that Austria would support Bosnia and Herzegovina's efforts to receive candidate status for membership to the EU, however, provided that it satisfies all the set preconditions.

We will support Bosnia and Herzegovina on its path to the EU and with all reforms, he said underscoring that it was decisive for Bosnia and Herzegovina to agree to mechanisms for interior coordination concerning relations with the EU because that is the most significant aspect to approve candidate status.

Crnadak confirmed that the country's delegation would present its request for candidate status in Brussels on 15 February, adding that he was convinced that the coordination mechanism would be agreed to over the next few days which is a pre-condition for the request to even be considered.

"Austria has expressed explicit support for the implementation of reforms and faster approach to the EU taking into consideration all our specifics," Crnadak said.

Latest news

Syrian opposition rules out future role for President al-Assad

The Syrian opposition said Friday it would not accept any role for President Bashar al-Assad in the future of the war-torn country, reacting to a recent US shift saying that removing al-Assad is no longer a priority for Washington.

Russian Army integrates breakaway forces of Georgian province

Parts of the small fighting forces of the Georgian breakaway province of South Ossetia have been placed under Russian military control, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday.

Czech Republic's Pilsner Urquell beer is now Japanese

Japanese brewing company Asahi completed its takeover of the Czech brewery Pilsner Urquell on Friday, Asahi said in a statement.

Judge approves 25-million-dollar settlement of Trump University case

A US district judge on Friday approved a 25-million-dollar settlement of lawsuits and state fraud allegations against Trump University, the US president's now-defunct business venture.

Former Thai premier Thaksin to junta on reconciliation: 'Cut me out'

Former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra on Friday announced that he is not interested in the junta-led reconciliation process, three days after the junta handed him a half-a-billion-dollar tax bill for his past business deal.

Dalic: We welcome possible deal between Agrokor and banks

The government welcomes the possibility of an agreement being concluded between the Agrokor food company and creditor banks, and the bill on vitally important companies is not a fallback plan but the result of the government's care for the overall economic and financial stability of Croatia, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Martina Dalic told a press conference in Zagreb on Friday.

Croatia, China sign action plan for cooperation in agriculture

The Croatian and Chinese ministries of agriculture on Friday signed an action plan for cooperation in the field of agriculture for the period 2017-2018, the Croatian ministry said in a statement.

ZSE indices up, Agrokor shares in focus of investor interest

The Zagreb Stock Exchange (ZSE) indices on Friday rose by more than 1.8%, with stocks of the Agrokor food and retail concern being in the focus of investor interest again.

Berlin police defend handling of Berlin market attacker

Berlin police defended themselves on Friday against accusations that they stopped surveillance on Berlin Christmas market attacker despite knowing in June 2016 he was dangerous.

Croatia, creditors tailor emergency measures to save tottering giant

Croatia's tottering retail and food giant Agrokor reached an agreement with its creditors, putting its debts standby and allowing it to continue working during emergency restructuring, the Croatian branch of Austria's Erste Bank said Friday.

Agrokor's creditors say standstill agreement to go into force today

A standstill agreement regarding the Agrokor concern's existing financial obligations to banks will take effect on Friday, additional capital will be injected into the concern in the coming days and the concern will be actively restructured, which includes a change of its management, it was said on Friday after a meeting between Agrokor's suppliers and creditor banks.

Palestinians, UN slam Israel's new settlement plan

Palestinians, Israeli activists and the UN lambasted the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, a day after it gave the go-ahead for the first new West Bank settlement in a quarter of a century.

South Sudan rebels release three abducted foreign oil workers

South Sudanese rebels have released three foreign engineers they abducted in early March in the oil-rich Upper Nile region, Foreign Affairs Ministry official Mawein Makol Arik said on Friday.

Turkish opposition: Imprisoned party chief has gone on hunger strike

The head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish opposition party has launched a hunger strike from prison.

European leagues threaten Champions League schedule clashes

The European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) on Friday threatened schedule clashes on Champions League matchdays in an ongoing dispute with the governing body UEFA.

Danish court revokes citizenship of IS volunteer

A Danish appellate court on Friday stripped a man of his Danish citizenship for volunteering to fight for the extremist Islamic State in Syria.

Banks and Agrokor agree on key elements of standstill agreement

Member banks of the coordinating committee of financial creditors and representatives of the Agrokor food company have in principle agreed on key elements of a standstill agreement, which is expected to be signed later today, announcing changes in the company's management team, Erste Bank said in a statement on Friday afternoon.

Syrian man on trial in Sweden; mosque attack labelled terrorism

A Syrian man went on trial Friday in the southern Swedish city of Malmo, charged with terrorism and arson after an attack last year on a building used as an assembly hall by Shiite Muslims.