EU concerned over fragmentation of Balkan migration route

EPA / VALDRIN XHEMAJ

Refugees, among them many children, queue for supplies at a camp at the border between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), near Idomeni, northern Greece, 09 March 2016. Greece estimates that more than 25,000 migrants are presently on its territory, with more than half stuck at the makeshift camp Idomeni, on the border with Macedonia. The EU and Ankara are negotiating a scheme to return migrants from Greece to Turkey and directly resettle legitimate Syrian refugees across the bloc directly from Turkey. The deal would likely only apply to new arrivals, making the future of those already in Greece unclear.

Putting hopes on Western Balkan cooperation, European Commission is aware of Idomeni-like situations that could be formed in Albania and Bulgaria.


Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+
Share on LinkedIn
+

As the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece Idomeni border situation remains difficult, the European Commission today denied that the EU has moved on to crisis management mode from trying to provide a “comprehensive solution. “We are doing both”, answered Alexander Winterstein, Deputy Chief Spokesperson, reassuring the press at today’s briefing.

The European Commission appears worried over the development of alternative migration routes, passing via Albania – Italy and Bulgaria, since the Idomeni border hasn’t opened to migrants since Monday. In order to control the situation in the area,the 20th video conference of the Western Balkan cooperation will take place this evening, coordinated by the Commission, as Natasha Bertaud, Spokesperson for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship added. “Slovenia is as of today proceeding to the full implementation of Schengen rules at its borders with Croatia”, Bertaud said, confirming the Commission’s awareness of the situation. The position of the Commission remains unchanged, as people that do not fulfill Schengen requirements or have not submitted an asylum request, will not enter Slovenia.

This wording is consistent with both 17-18 February decisions and the Heads of State 7 March decision, at the very recent EU – Turkey Summit, as in both cases, it was decided to put an end to the ‘wave-through’ approach of refugee flows.

From his view, Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commisssioner on Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, added later in the day from Brussels: “There is always a possibility that these flows are to be diverted to other directions, if the Balkan route is closed. For the moment, it is not the case, but all countries in the region are well prepared even for this likelihood, but for the moment there is not any sign that the migratory flows are diverted towards either Albania or other countries”.

As for alternative migration routes, except the Albania – Italy and Bulgaria option, no details were given on the “Arctic route”. “It is something that we are aware”, mentioned Bertaud, after being asked about minor but present migration routes, that are taken through Russian borders.

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google+
Share on LinkedIn
+