Migrant Crisis: Macedonia Closes Balkan Route


Macedonia has blocked the Balkan north route to illegal migrants by closing its border with Greece. The decision came after Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia announced tougher restrictions on migrants on Tuesday.

“We have completely closed the border,” the police official said in a report by Reuters.

Macedonia has decided to bring these changes in accordance with what other countries on the Balkan route are doing, says a spokesman of the Macedonian Interior Ministry.

Earlier, Macedonia had allowed Syrian and Iraqi migrants in small numbers but now it has strengthened its policies regarding migrants entry to the country. Around 13,000 migrants are stranded on the Greek-Macedonia border

Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia also planned to impose new restrictions after EU leaders agreed with Turkey to ease the migrants crisis. As per the plan, migrants stranded in Greece would be returned back to Turkey. However, EU would need to resettle a Syrian for every Syrian it would send back to Turkey.

Following the deal, EU in October promised to give Turkey $3.3 billion to help control the migrant flow. However, Turkey demanded from the EU to double the amount it is offering.

One issue is the “mass return of Syrians without any processing”, whether they will get asylum status or be political slaves. UN officials referred to European Convention on Human Rights. And said that it clearly forbids “the collective expulsion of foreigners.”  Under the international law, it is not illegal for someone to flee from a conflict and ask for asylum. Each person’s case must be heard individually as they could have some valid reasons.

The second challenge is sending migrants back to a “safe country.”  UN officials said that the return can be legal; since migrants can only be sent back to a country which can give them economic, cultural and social opportunities and safety. And this is where Turkey fails to accomplish all the requirements. Syrian refugees want to leave Turkey because it fails to provide work, education and healthcare for them, reports BBC.

Up until now, EU does not consider Turkey as a “safe third country”. So returning Syrian to Turkey is questionable but, above all returning non-Syrian is more troublesome.

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