Wednesday, 1 December 2021 | News today: 0

Juncker satisfied with what was accomplished during the refugee summit


European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker said that he is satisfied with the outcome of the summit on tackling the refugee crisis and the so­-called Balkan refugee route. Juncker said that this is the first time to have leaders from the European Union transit and destination countries sit together with their counterparts from the Balkan transit countries to discuss this dramatic situation during which hundreds of thousands of refugees have entered Europe and hundreds have died in accidents while travelling illegally from Turkey to Germany.

“Sunday was a day of unity”, Juncker said, speaking about the meeting of the often bickering Balkan and EU countries, who have responded to the refugee crisis by fencing off their borders, closing official crossings and moving the refugees unannounced to the neighbouring country down the road. The summit provided conclusions that call on all the countries to immediately begin informing each other in detail of the movement of the refugees, and to stop secretly waving the refugees through. It should also lead to the temporary sheltering of up to 100.000 refugees along the route, half of them in Greece. Macedonian announced it can house up to 2.000 refugees, if proper assistance is provided.

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov joined the leaders from Germany, Austria, Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia to discuss the problem that is affecting all of them. The countries agreed to establish contact points between themselves within 24 hours, a major issue for Macedonia which constantly pointed out that Greece is simply not communicating with Macedonia on the issue. Relations between the two countries have been strained for decades, with Greece invoking the name issue to block Macedonia from joining the EU and NATO. One of the conclusions calls for immediate measures to build confidence between Macedonia and Greece. A diplomatic envoy in Juncker’s cabinet will be tasked with coordinating the communication between the countries, and on Thursday, a video-­conference will be held to evaluate the progress that has been made.

Meanwhile, the European Commission decided to increase its spending for transporting supplies necessary for the refugees. Countries along the route will receive assistance in food, blankets and other essentials to provide for the refugees, who mostly come from the war torn Middle East. Refugees who don’t come from the Middle East can expect to be returned to their homes, in another step to make room for the genuine war refugees who mostly come from Syria.

Counting only registered refugees, Macedonia saw over 150.000 people cross the border in the past four months, with the actual numbers during this period and over the entire crisis believed to be much higher. An overwhelming majority of these refugees only crossed through Macedonia, with a negligible percentage of them requesting asylum in Macedonia.

Macedonia declared a crisis situation in its southern and northern border crossings of Gevgelija and Tabanovce, where the refugees cross into from Greece, and then leave for Serbia. This allowed for the Army to deploy and assist the border and regular police units to manage the flow of refugees.