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Macedonia: the Balkan route “is closed”

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Macedonia, Skopje – Macedonia closed its borders, blocking with the help of the V4 countries and now even Austria, many migrants from Africa and Asia but also sometimes from Haiti, Mexico or more distant countries who try their luck to Germany or Scandinavia, despite the willingness of Central European countries to put an end to the “Balkan’s route”.

According to the Macedonian police, about 1,500 migrants attempted to enter the territory of Macedonia across the river Suva Reka, but were apprehended and returned to Greece. After leaving their tent camp in Idomeni, on the Greek side of the border, migrants have illegally tried their luck before being arrested by the Macedonian police.

Ivica Bocevski, spokesperson of the President of the Republic of Macedonia Gjorge Ivanov, said after the passage of the river, which made a buzz, that it was an “large-scale illegal attempt to cross the border” , and emphasized that “Macedonia will not let reopen the Balkan’s route”. “It’s closed.” did he warned. The Austrian Minister of Interior Johanna Mikl-Leitner, complimented the work of the Macedonian authorities. She also said that Macedonia, although not a member of the European Union, is defending better its own stability than some EU countries.

72 journalists arrested

“It is obvious that there are some smugglers and N.G.O.s that want to profit out of this whole situation” said Nikola Poposki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia during a television interview. The arrest, detention and deportation to Greece of 72 journalists have been confirmed, for “illegal border crossing”.

The episode of the river crossing Suva Reka was heavily hyped, and one can see on the pictures many journalists and members of non-governmental organizations to come physically help migrants to smuggle the river. Journalists arrested had to pay a deposit of € 260 to be released from their cells and have been denied entry in Macedonia for six months. According to police, the journalists who would not pay the deposit are subject to legal prosecution.

View gallery of photographer Balázs Béli.