Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Popovski.jpg
Photograph: EPA/GEORGI LICOVSKI

Macedonia, which is facing a major refugee influx, is grateful to Croatia for its concrete assistance in border protection and refugee registration, Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki said in Munich on Saturday.

"We are grateful that in a situation as difficult as this, with huge pressure from migrants and refugees crossing the border, there are EU countries that are helping us politically and on the ground.

Croatian police are helping us in those efforts and the cooperation is excellent, not only in terms of border control and the prevention of illegal border crossings, but also as regards the registration and reception of refugees who can be accepted as asylum seekers in European countries," Poposki told Croatian reporters after talks with his Croatian counterpart Miro Kovac.

Under an agreement reached by countries intersected by the Western Balkan refugee route, a group of Croatian border police officers was sent to Macedonia this past Tuesday to help in the profiling of refugees and border control.

Kovac said that the cooperation between Croatia and Macedonia as well as between all countries on the refugee route was very efficient, especially the cooperation between the police forces of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia.

"Our police are helping with border control and refugee profiling. We must demonstrate with that example that we care about refugees and are contributing to a possible European solution to the migrant crisis," said Kovac.

A European solution will have to be found soon because otherwise, if refugees continue arriving at the current pace, it will cause problems in those countries that receive refugees, primarily Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and Austria, said Kovac.

As for Montenegro's preparations for the possible arrival of refugees, Kovac said that it was normal for countries to be preparing even though there were no signs that the refugee route could change its course.

Poposki said that his country had set up barriers on the border to prevent people smuggling and illegal border crossings and reception centres to ensure refugees were treated humanely, and that it was working on their registration. The refugees are being profiled in such a way to separate refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan from economic migrants, he said.

Kovac was in Munich as a member of a Croatian state delegation attending an international security conference. He held a number of bilateral meetings and attended several panel discussions there.

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