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Refugee influx could spark ‘military conflict’ in Balkans, Angela Merkel warns

Angela Merkel has warned that fighting could once again break out in the Balkans if Europe fails to manage the refugee crisis properly, according to German media reports.

The German Chancellor has faced growing calls from her own coalition partners to abandon policies which offer a welcome to refugees, particularly in Bavaria where facilities have been stretched by the recent influx.

In a stark warning during an address to members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union party, Ms Merkel said Germany risked sparked a chain reaction of violence if it shuts its border with Austria permanently.

“It will lead to a backlash,” she said. Referencing the wars which ravaged the region in the 1990s, she added: “I do not want military conflicts to become necessary there again.”

Tensions are running high among the Balkan states, ever since Hungary’s decision to build a razor-wire fence and shut its borders opened up old rifts between it and its neighbours.

In Germany itself, the vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel dismissed a row over the use of “transit zones” to process refugees as “silly”. He said the idea, favoured by Merkel’s conservatives, would only really be useful for a tiny proportion of the people arriving.