The Latest: Albania stages exercise to prepare for migrants

The Latest on Europe's response to migrants (all times local):

11:15 a.m.

Albania's Defense Ministry says the navy and law enforcement authorities have held joint sea military exercises in preparation of a possible influx of refugees.

A statement Friday said some navy ships held the codenamed "Vlora Sarex 16" exercises at Vlora Bay, 145 kilometers (90 miles) south of the capital, Tirana, simulating "prevention of human trafficking and stopping traffickers ... and also a search-and-rescue operation."

Albania, a NATO member since 2009, borders Greece, where tens of thousands of migrants have been stranded after the closure of the Balkan corridor, and Macedonia.

Though it hasn't been a transit route so far, Albania is cooperating with the European agencies to prepare for a possible flow of migrants.


10:20 a.m.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has told reporters the government is concerned that an increasing number of migrants will try to reach Europe this summer by crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy.

De Maiziere and his Austrian counterpart, Walter Sobotka, met Friday, and both ministers said that Italy needs to do more to protect its southern sea border.

With the flow of people across the eastern Mediterranean slowing sharply due to the NATO patrols and an EU agreement to return illegal migrants to Turkey, officials say it is likely that those trying to reach Europe will increasingly try to set off from Libya again. The route has seen a number of mass drownings over the past year of migrants packed into unseaworthy boats.