Migrants Hungary EU fence
Hungarian police check Syrian immigrants after they crossed the Hungarian-Serbian border near Roszke Laszlo Balogh/Reuters

Many countries across Europe and its borders are affected by the ongoing migrant and refugee crisis, as millions of people flee war, oppression and poverty across the world. But there is growing tension and disagreement among countries caught in the middle of the crisis about how best to handle the fiasco. With each passing day, the need for action intensifies as desperate people die on treacherous journeys to Europe. One image of a drowned child washed up on the shores of Turkey has captured the world's imagination and heightened emotions, putting extra pressure on heads of governments to act and act fast. From Turkey to the UK, here is what some of those leaders have had to say about the current crisis.


"We're taking action right across the board, we're helping the countries from which these people are coming, stabilising and trying to make sure there are worthwhile jobs and stronger economies there," UK Prime Minister David Cameron told BBC News. "We're obviously taking action at Calais in terms of the Channel, which I've described on previous occasions. There's more that we need to do and we're working together with our European partners as well. These are big challenges but we will meet them.

"We have taken a number of genuine asylum seekers from Syrian refugee camps. We keep that under review, but we think the most important thing is to try to bring peace and stability to that part of the world. I don't think there is an answer that can be achieved simply by taking more and more refugees."


Speaking at a press conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said:

We agree that we need to push through a unified European migration policy. That member states bear responsibility, but also the European Commission. We agree that through the Commission, certain countries of origin should be defined; that registration centres should be set up in Italy and Greece with European co-operation. Those without a right to stay should be sent back to their countries. And we also agree that those who are refugees from war should be fairly divided according to the size and economic power of each EU country.


According to AFP:

We must put in place a unified system for the right to asylum," [French president Francois] Hollande said in a brief statement ahead of talks [with Merkel], calling the influx from the world's crisis zones "an exceptional situation that will last for some time".

"Rather than wait, we should organise and reinforce our policies, and that is what France and Germany are proposing," he said.


Hungarian president Viktor Orban wrote an opinion piece for the German newspaper Allgemeine Zeitung. In it, he calls European politicians giving hope of a better life to migrants "irresponsible" because they risk their lives to get here -- so the EU's borders should be forcefully protected.

"That's why we built the fence," Orban wrote. "We do this not for fun, but because it is necessary." He added that it is "quite depressing" that only Hungary and the Spaniards are willing to protect the EU's borders, which is the will of most European people. And he claimed that the "Christian culture of Europe" is threatened by the migrants and refugees.


"It will take months, but we will have a single European policy on asylum, not as many policies as there are countries," said Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, reported Reuters. At a June meeting of EU leaders, Renzi reportedly launched into a furious outburst. "Either give us solidarity or don't waste our time," he said, according to AFP. "If you don't want to take the 40,000 you are not fit to be called Europe."


"The immigrant flow to Greece is beyond what our state infrastructure can handle," Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, told the Guardian. "We have significant problems and that's why we have asked for help from EU."


Werner Faymann, Austrian chancellor, said at an August summit:

We need to solve the refugee issue in the spirit of cooperation. Walls and watchtowers are not the solution – only joint action in Europe can help. It's not a matter of making proposals at another country's expense. We need to secure the external borders but we also need to know what to do with the refugees there. You can't just leave Greece or other countries of first asylum alone with the problem. We need to develop joint proposals; there has to be a fair distribution and binding quota for receiving refugees in Europe.


From an AFP report on Turkey, which has taken in 1.8 million Syrian refugees since 2011:

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Europe of not doing enough to help refugees fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq, suggesting it was responsible for people "drowning in the sea".

"This is the type of country that we are," Erdogan said. "But when you look at the whole of Europe, what you find is that they have not been able to welcome a mere 200,000 refugees in their countries.

"What's more, when there are those who tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea to get into Europe, the attitude they have or the groundwork they lay is such that these people end up drowning in the sea."


Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy is open to taking in more refugees, but has reservations. His views reported in a Bloomberg report:

While Rajoy agreed that European Union members should share the burden of accepting asylum seekers in a "fair and just" way, he said he wasn't ready to raise his country's existing limit of 2,739 people for this year. Germany expects to receive 800,000 refugees this year.

"We will show solidarity but it's not the same for those with one unemployment rate as those with another," Rajoy said at a joint briefing with the German chancellor in Berlin Tuesday. "We would like to see what the criteria will be" of a common immigration policy.


"We need to take some new steps. Maybe we need to allocate migrants differently from how we do it today, perhaps we need to look at other solutions," said Norwegian prime minister Erna Solberg, reported TheLocal.no. "The Greek authorities are unable to deal with the crowds of migrants that are washing up over their islands [...] The current situation is not sustainable, no one in Europe believes it is."


"We need to provide security for the refugees who risk facing death just a few mile off the coast of Europe, and get more of the EU member states to take responsibility for refugee protection," Sweden's prime minister Stefan Löfven said in a Gothenburg speech. "Germany and Sweden take the greatest responsibility. More countries need to help take care of refugees."