Croatian, Slovenian Presidents Discuss Refugees, Macedonia Warns of Possible Incidents

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As two presidents meeting, border tensions grow as economic migrants are stranded. 

Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović met yesterday in Ljubljana. One of the topics of their discussions was the refugee crisis in the region. Pahor and Grabar-Kitarović discussed the problems and challenges that countries in the region face due to the refugee crisis. They agreed that it was an issue which concerns the whole of Europe and should be solved at the source with long-term measures. Pahor said that Slovenia wanted to reintroduce the previous regime for the control of those entering Slovenia, which is a part of the Schengen Area, which would mean full controls and respect of the Schengen rules, which are currently not fully implemented because according to them migrants from third countries without a visa would not have the right to enter the Schengen Area. However, that rule cannot be implemented without an agreement with other countries, especially Croatia and Austria, which are two neighbouring countries of Slovenia, reports Vecernji List and on November 23, 2015.

Croatian president said that she hoped the wire fence put up by Slovenia on the border with Croatia will not cause incidents on either side and that it would soon be removed. Both she and Pahor advocate better control of the refugee wave and cooperation between countries of Southeast and Central Europe, while taking into account humanitarian as well as security aspects of the refugee crisis, since it is important to protect the citizens of the countries through which the migrants pass.

Pahor and Grabar-Kitarović support making distinctions between refugees fleeing conflicts and seeking international protection and those so-called economic migrants who are fleeing communities affected by poverty. This issue should be solved in countries from which they are coming to Europe.

Macedonia on Sunday warned of the danger of possible incidents on its border with Greece, where more than a thousand economic migrants are blocked after the decision to restrict entry just to refugees from war-torn countries. “A location near Gevgelija has become a bottleneck for the passage of migrants and refugees. Safety hazards are increasing”, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov said after talks with President of the European Council Donald Tusk. “There is a great danger of incidents between refugees and migrants, as well as between migrants and law enforcement and local population”, warned the Macedonian President.

More than 1,000 persons who are considered to be economic migrants, mostly Iranian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals, have been blocked for four days on the Greek side of the border with Macedonia, following a decision by countries on the Balkan route to allow passage only to persons fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.


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