Since 2014, Macedonia’s resources have been stretched in the wake of the tremendous influx of migrants entering southeastern Europe – over one million refugees passed through Macedonia. Although the Macedonian authorities have managed to protect the border admirably, and in close coordination and cooperation with EU countries downstream such as Austria and Hungary, it has come at great cost. Meanwhile, the Greek government has intentionally passed its migrant burden on to Macedonia in a concerted effort to destabilize it.
As a part of Athens’ long-standing foreign policy of hostility towards its peaceful northern neighbor, the main method has been to transport large numbers of migrants away from their ports of entry on Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, and drop them off in makeshift camps near Idomeni, creating inhumane and unsanitary conditions in open fields, which have led to rioting and a booming trade in human smuggling, all in a concerted effort from Athens to undermine Macedonian efforts to control its borders effectively.
According to reports, the EU border control agency FRONTEX has dispatched border guards to assist Greek government authorities in monitoring the border between Greece and Macedonia. The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) calls on FRONTEX to bring an end to the Greek government policy of busing migrants towards a non-EU state such as Macedonia, when they have already arrived in a EU state such as Greece.
If EU countries such as Germany wish to maintain an “all migrants welcome” policy, they need to also take the responsibility for the outcome, including a better consultation process with EU member states at the periphery of Europe, many of which have national governments that do not share the same ideology and do not have the resources to deal with the influx effectively.
It appears that a lack of coordination among EU member states has led Brussels to avoid using EU member states such as Italy, or Bulgaria and Romania, to move migrants from Greece to Germany, where Ms. Merkel’s government is welcoming them with open arms. Instead, they have used non-EU member states such as Macedonia and Serbia as transit points, and this policy must stop. We hope that the presence of FRONTEX will encourage more neighborly relations with independent non-EU states along the Western Balkan route.