Analysis 04 Mar 16

Balkans Brace for Migrant Crisis Shifts

As northern Europe changes it policies towards migrants, Balkan countries cooperate and prepare for new challenges.

Drew Adamek, Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Filip Avramovic, Dusica Tomovic, Maria Cheresheva
BIRN
Belgrade, Skopje, Podgorica, Sofia
Refugees at the Greek-Macedonian border. Photo: Anadolu Agency

Balkan interior ministers agreed to new migration guidelines in Zagreb on February 24, following the Austrian decision to slash the quota for migrants to 3,200 a day which resulted in a dramatic drop in the number of migrants crossing the southern Macedonian border.

As part of the new rules, the police chiefs of Austria, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia agreed to organize the joint transport of migrants from the Macedonia-Greece border to Austria.

Senior police officials from Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria said that control of the region's borders is crucial to prevent illegal entry, while allowing through those who have the right to seek asylum in EU countries.

Serbian police director Vladimir Rebic says "we didn't discuss quotas, but how to prevent misuse." He warns uncontrolled migrant flows present a security risk.

Austria said it would now only accept refugees whose identity can be proven, who are seeking asylum in Austria or Germany and who do not represent a security risk and have no criminal record.

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