Members of the European Union need "mutual understanding" of concerns about migration, said Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on Wednesday, noting that securing European borders was essential to reaching an agreement on burden sharing.
Muscat made the remarks in Valletta during a visit by the European Commission to mark Malta taking over the rotating presidency of the EU for the next 6 months.
Muscat said moving closer to a solution on the European migration crisis was a top priority of the Maltese presidency, which will require countries to better understand each others' viewpoints.
The EU is aiming to achieve an agreement among member states to redistribute asylum seekers across the bloc, but the notion of mandatory quotas has been rejected by some Eastern European states.
Eastern European countries "have a point" on the need to secure borders to ensure that only those with the right to seek asylum can enter, Muscat said.
Malta, a small island republic lying between Libya and Italy, is directly on the route that many refugees take across the Mediterranean in their attempt to reach Europe.