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Macedonia erects a fence on the border with Greece

19 November 2015 / 14:11:02  GRReporter
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Macedonia has started to place barbed wire along the border with Greece in implementing the decision of the security council, as reported by the Greek newspaper Kathimerini.

The workers are preparing the terrain with bulldozers and tractors, opening holes in which iron columns for the wire fence will be placed. This will close the main passage for those refugees and migrants who arrive in the country from Greece, writes Stavros Tzimas, Kathimerini correspondent in Thessaloniki. According to the article, the fence will be erected on the railway line in the village of Idomeni, near the shore of the river Axios, and it will cover a distance of 1.5 km. The installation work is carried out by members of the military.

The publication states that by blocking the border with Greece, Macedonia aspires to prepare against the likelihood of other countries that lie to the north on the route of refugees closing their borders and to limit the number of refugees it will receive on its territory. Thus, the author states, the country is transferring the tension to Greece, which will be threatened by "suffocation", as refugee influx will not be able to continue to the north nor will it be possible to interrupt its passing through the Aegean Sea. Therefore, all these people are expected to remain in Greece.
 
Concern is reigning in the village of Idomeni on the Greek-Macedonian border, where thousands of refugees and migrants arrive every day - 5,000 people arrived there yesterday, 4,600 on Tuesday and 6,892 on Monday.

Refugees trying to cross the Greek-Macedonian border in August, photo: skai.gr

Christos Gatenoudis, mayor of Peonia municipality, allegedly informed the Greek Minister for Migration Yiannis Mouzalas on the commencement of installation works by Macedonia. "Indeed, the facilities are already operating on the other side of the border. The creation of three reception and registration centres has been announced, namely in Thessaloniki, Kavala and Kilkis, but so far nothing has been done. When I asked the Minister what would happen if a few thousand people remained here (in Idomeni - editor’s note), he said that the government had a plan but refused to reveal it to me," the mayor told Kathimerini.

The author of the article comments that under these conditions, Athens might soon be forced to deal with an emergency without being clear whether there is any plan to do so. Wire fences are gradually closing the Balkan corridor from north to south, reaching Idomeni and therefore threatening Greece to become a possible huge refugee "pool." Hungary and Slovenia have already installed fences, Croatia has announced that it will do the same and Belgrade is saying that if Zagreb installs a fence along its border, Serbia too "will protect its interests".

According to Tzimas, a possible closure of the border between Greece and Macedonia will direct the refugee flood to the "route crossing the Danube", which includes Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia. He recalls that the Prime Ministers of the three countries have recently met in Sofia and announced that, in the presence of such a possibility, they will close their state borders too.

Meanwhile, tension has gripped the neutral zone between Greece and Macedonia since yesterday, as the refugees and migrants there have been informed that only citizens of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq will be entitled to pass freely from now on.

"All night we tried to reassure those refugees who are already in the reception centre. The police checked the issued official notes and the passports that some refugees have to ensure that only representatives of these three nationalities will be allowed to cross the border," said Alexanros Voulgaris, a member of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees mission in Greece.

He added that this morning about 100 Iranians were near the neutral zone and begged to be allowed to cross the border, resulting in the Macedonian authorities closing the border shortly after 8:00 am.

Tags: PoliticsRefugee floodWire fenceBorder between Greece and MacedoniaIdomeni
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