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Romania says can take maximum 1,785 refugees, rejects EU quotas

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania can take in a maximum 1,785 migrants in a voluntary scheme to help ease pressures on the European Union from an influx of refugees fleeing Middle East wars but opposes any compulsory EU quotas, President Klaus Iohannis said on Monday.

The European Commission has drawn up a new set of national quotas under which 160,000 asylum-seekers should be relocated to other EU countries from Italy, Greece and Hungary, an EU source said earlier on Monday. According to the plan, Romania was expected to shelter 6,351. [ID:nL5N11D1K9]

“We can treat this matter with calm and responsibility and be sympathetic with those countries having a large number of refugees. I don’t think that mandatory quotas are the solution,” Iohannis told a news conference.

“We can take maximum 1,785 people,” he added.

Asked whether a wave of migrants would cross Romanian orders in coming days, he said: “This can’t happen...We’re not part of Schengen (passport-free travel zone within EU) and migrants must fulfil some rules if they want to enter Romania.”

Almost all of the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have reached Europe this year have sought to enter the Schengen zone via Hungary and make their way towards wealthier states in the west and north of the EU especially Germany.

Romania, along with neighbouring Bulgaria, are the poorest members of the 28-member EU.

Other formerly communist, eastern EU countries including Hungary also strongly oppose quotas for hosting migrants.

Reporting by Radu Marinas; Editing by Mark Heinrich