Austria says closure of Balkan route is ‘permanent’
As a result of the route’s closure, thousands of migrants have built up and are left stranded
South-eastern Europe’s “Balkan route”, the main passage for migrants to reach more affluent countries to the north, will remain closed permanently, Austria’s Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told German newspaper “Die Welt” on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Macedonia sealed its border with Greece to illegal migrants after Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia, which are on the way to Austria, announced tight new restrictions on migrant entry.
“My position is clear: the Balkan route remains closed and that permanently,” Mikl-Leitner told the newspaper.
She said only such a “consistent signal” will deter migrants, many of them fleeing war and conflict in the Middle East and beyond, from crossing the Mediterranean from Turkey to reach European shores.
As a result of the route’s closure, thousands of migrants have built up on the Greek side of the Macedonian border and around 1,000 more are stranded in a refugee camp on the Macedonian side of the Serbian border.
“This alliance of reason has so far provided the decisive contribution to preserve stability and order for the people in Europe,” Mikl-Leitner said in reference to the Balkan countries along the route.
In late February, Austria set off what it called a “domino effect” of national restrictions by imposing daily caps on the number of migrants to limit the flow of people towards it.
Last year, over 1.5 million migrants arrived in Europe, unleashing fierce political debates across the continent over how to handle the crisis.
Balkan route a road of beatings for migrants, refugees: AmnestyNearly 2,000 have died so far this year trying to reach Italy or Greece by boat Features
Police: 14 migrants killed by train in MacedoniaMigrants using an overland route from Greece through the Balkans to Hungary often use the train tracks as a path to guide them World News
UN warns EU refugee plan may break lawEuropean Union leaders welcomed Turkey’s offer on Monday to take back all migrants who cross into Europe from its soil World News
EU agrees to work for Turkish deal on migrantsIn exchange for stopping the influx, Istanbul demanded doubling EU funding through 2018 to help Syrian refugees stay in Turkey Middle East