Refugee crisis: Macedonia tells Germany they've 'completely failed'

Macedonia is 'paying for the mistakes of the EU' says President Ivanov, as his country seals its border with Greece 

Charlotte Beale@CharlotteAGB
Saturday 12 March 2016 17:08
Macedonia has closed its border with Greece; this young refugee is in a camp at Idomeni, a village on the Greek-Macedonian border
Macedonia has closed its border with Greece; this young refugee is in a camp at Idomeni, a village on the Greek-Macedonian border

Macedonia’s President has told Germany "your country has completely failed" in its security response to the refugee crisis.

While praising the "humanity" of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door immigration policy, President Gjorge Ivanov said "the security situation has been entirely ignored" in an interview with German newspaper Bild.

Authorities in Macedonia, which is not a European Union member state, have seized 9,000 forged or stolen passports from refugees.

But Macedonian offers to share intelligence and data on alleged jihadists have been rejected by Europe, Mr Ivanov said.

"We were told: we cannot cooperate with you; you are a third party country."

"After the Paris attacks, we were asked whether we had any information, but only after the event. We told the authorities that ten people with the same identity as the assassins had entered the country."

Mr Ivanov also spoke of his anger at Greece’s “obstruction” of Macedonia’s accession to the EU.

"A potential EU membership for Macedonia has been discussed seven times already, but there was always an obstruction, caused by Greece."

"What would you do if someone blocked any paths for your country for over 25 years?"

The interview comes as Macedonia fully closes its border with Greece, which has previously been a transit point for refugees to the rest of Europe.

Consequently, more than 40,000 refugees are now estimated to be trapped in Greece. Its President Alexis Tsipras has said his country is becoming “a warehouse of souls”.

Thousands of refugees stranded on Greece-Macedonia border

But Mr Ivanov said Macedonia was simply “paying for the mistakes of the EU”.

"We as a non-EU country now have to protect Europe from an EU country - that is, Greece."

"We already had to spend €25 million in tax money. We already declared a state of emergency. And what have we received from Europe? Nothing! Not a single cent."

Mr Ivanov said Brussels had exacerbated the refugee crisis by taking "far too much time to make decisions".

"What is Europe doing? It takes more than six months to organize a summit alone. By that time, one million new migrants have arrived."

"This is why, for instance, some countries along the Balkans route like us had to act on their own."

"If we had trusted Brussels and had not reacted on our own initiative, we would already have been flooded with jihadists."

"The EU has no right to accuse Macedonia. We are merely looking after ourselves."

Mr Ivanov said he was "skeptical" of Ms Merkel's proposed deal with Turkey. The scheme would mean that Europe could send back every "irregular migrant" arriving in Greece from Turkey, as long as Europe accepts from Turkey recognised Syrian refugees in exchange.

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