Friday

18th Jan 2019

Austria plans Western Balkan meeting on migrant caps

  • Austria says it intends to impose further restrictions on asylum entries (Photo: Michael Gubi)

Austria is asking Western Balkan nations and Bulgaria to meet to discuss the migrant crisis, ahead of a gathering of EU interior ministers in Brussels.

The move follows Austria's decision last week to cap the daily number of asylum applications to 80, and allow 3,200 migrants to travel through its territory each day.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The decision roused fears of bottlenecks along the Balkan route and further border clamp downs and drew sharp criticism from Germany and the European Commission.

The Austria meeting will take place on Wednesday (24 February) and will be attended by ministers from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia, reports Reuters.

The aim is reportedly to clarify Austria's border restrictions, its implications, and how best to coordinate efforts along the Balkan route.

Austria's interior minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner and foreign minister Sebastian Kurz have sent invitations.

Despite criticism from some of her peers, Mikl-Leitner said she intended to impose further restrictions.

The gathering on Wednesday may build on a separate pact agreed last week by police chiefs from Austria, Croatia, Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia.

Afghan bottleneck

All five agreed to organise joint transport of migrants directly from the Macedonia-Greece border to Austria, where they can opt to stay or continue to Germany.

“We’ll sign a joint statement on how to profile and transport the migrants from the Greek-Macedonian border to Germany,” Vlado Dominic, chief of the Croatian police, told Balkan Insight.

EU interior ministers the following day will meet in Brussels to discuss new efforts to document everyone who passes through an external border. They will also discuss a new European border and coast guard proposal.

Meanwhile, Macedonia is reportedly stopping Afghan nationals from entering from Greece.

The Macedonian police told AP they had taken the measure because of a similar block imposed by Serbia, which in turn blamed Austria and Slovenia.

Greek police on Sunday (21 February) confirmed to AP that Afghans were no longer being admitted into Macedonia.

"The authorities of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia informed us that, beginning at dawn Sunday, they no longer accept Afghan refugees because the same problem exists at their border with Serbia," said a Greek police spokesperson.

Police in Macedonia are also reportedly now only allowing people with valid identification documents to pass.

Analysis

Greek migration crisis enters worst-case scenario

The EU warned Tuesday of a possible humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Balkans, with Greece a special concern, as a de facto exclusion from the Schengen area looms.

Migrant tensions flare at Macedonian-Greek border

The bottleneck situation with more than 22,000 stuck in Greece because of tighter border restriction further north created tensions on Monday, as frustrated asylum seekers tried to force themselves into Macedonia.

Far right wins first round of Austrian vote

Candidates from Austria's two main parties were eliminated in the first round of the presidential election for the first time in its post-war history.

News in Brief

  1. Another referendum 'would take a year', Downing St says
  2. 82-year old Berlusconi to run in EU elections
  3. EU parliament votes to triple funds for democracy promotion
  4. EU parliament backs linking budget payments to rule of law
  5. Verhofstadt voted for Draghi amendment 'by mistake'
  6. 'Plan B' Brexit vote in UK parliament set for 29 January
  7. Verhofstadt wanted Draghi out of G30 group
  8. Putin heads to Serbia amid warnings against West

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  2. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  3. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  4. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift
  5. German spies to monitor far-right AfD party
  6. On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?
  7. UK parliament rejects May's Brexit deal in historic defeat
  8. EU suggests majority vote on digital tax by 2025

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us