Speaking to reporters at a security conference in Munich, Valls said France would stick to its pledge to take on 30,000 of the 160,000 refugees European countries have agreed to divide among themselves, but would not accept additional numbers.
“We won’t take any more,” Valls said. He expressed admiration for Germany’s readiness to take on more refugees, but added: “France never said ‘come to France’.”
Merkel is expected to push European partners to accept so-called “contingents” of refugees at a meeting on Thursday in Brussels, shortly before European Union leaders come together for their summit.
Cobbling together a coalition of countries that is ready to accept more asylum seekers over time is crucial to Merkel’s efforts to convince Turkey to stem the tide of refugees fleeing countries in the Middle East, notably Syria. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will attend the pre-summit meeting.
“France rejects this,” Valls said of the permanent quota mechanism. He said France had already received 80,000 asylum applications last year and was struggling with youth radicalization and high unemployment.
In another sign of Europe’s deep divisions over the influx of migrants and refugees, Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico said Germany had protested against plans by eastern European leaders to help Macedonia and Bulgaria seal their border with Greece, the entry point into the EU for many migrants.
Leaders of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, known as the Visegrad Group, meet on Monday in Prague with their Macedonian and Bulgarian counterparts and could offer them manpower and other aid, diplomats said...