Central European countries to help Macedonia close border to migrants

Leaders of the four nations are expected to agree on helping Macedonia to block the migrants' path at its border with Greece when they meet in Prague on Monday.

"As long as a coherent European strategy is lacking, it is legitimate for the countries along the Balkan route to protect their borders," Slovakian Prime Minister Miroslav Lajcak told the magazine. "We will help them with that."

Like Greece, all four of the Visegrad nations are a part of the European Union and its free-movement Schengen area, while Macedonia is a member of neither.

Around 1 million people, including many refugees from war zones in the Middle East and Central Asia, passed along the Balkan route in 2015, most of them in the latter half of the year.

By late last year, the countries on the route organized a transport chain shuttling as many as 10,000 people daily from Greek Aegean islands to Athens, then Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and, finally, Austria.

Most continued to Germany and other wealthy EU countries to seek asylum there.

Last month Austria said that it will limit the number of asylum seekers to 37,500 in 2016 and 127,500 until mid-2019, after taking in 90,000 last year, raising the prospect of a massive migrants backlog on the Balkan route if Vienna seals the border.

During the week Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz visited non-EU western Balkan countries, including Serbia and Macedonia, and warned them that they must be prepared to close their own borders if Vienna does the same.

Last update: Sat, 13/02/2016 - 14:40

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