Austria Offers Help to Macedonia to Keep Balkans Migrant Route Shut

World » EU | March 16, 2016, Wednesday // 22:28
Bulgaria: Austria Offers Help to Macedonia to Keep Balkans Migrant Route Shut A refugee makes his way along the railway tracks in the make-shift camp for refugees in Idomeni, north Greece, some meters from the border with Macedonia, 16 March 2016. EPA/BGNES

The EU must help Macedonia bolster security at its border with Greece in order to keep the Western Balkans route shut to migrants, Austrian Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil has said.

Macedonia, which has done "a tremendous amount of work for the whole of the European Union” by sealing off its border with Greece, deserves more EU funding, Doskozil has said in an interview for Wednesday’s edition of German newspaper Die Welt, according to Deutsche Welle.

Doskozil added that Austria’s Defence Ministry was now looking into the possibility to provide equipment to the government in Skopje, for example night-vision gear, to help bolster security at Macedonia’s border with Greece.

The Austrian Defence Minister also warned that with the Western Balkan route through Macedonia and Serbia now closed, migrants might try to go from Turkey to Bulgaria in order to reach Western Europe.

According to Doskozil, there are between 400,000 and 500,000 migrants in the border area, on the Turkish side of the border with Bulgaria.

Last week Macedonia closed its border with  Greece after Austria and other EU member states curbed to a trickle the daily intake  of asylum seekers.

The few migrants who had managed to make it through to Macedonia earlier this week were forcibly sent back to Greece. Over 12,000 migrants are now stuck at Idomeni, on the Greek side of the border.

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Tags: Austria, macedonia, Doskozil, Die Welt, greece, migrant, route, western Balkan, Bulgaria
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