Tuesday

24th Apr 2018

Three people die after EU border clampdown

Two men and one woman on Monday (14 March) became the first victims of the EU’s decision to close Western Balkan borders.

They drowned in the Suva river, swollen after days of heavy rain, near the Greek border with Macedonia, Macedonia's interior ministry said. Police said 23 other people were rescued and taken to a camp on the Macedonian side.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

They were part of a group of more than 1,000 asylum seekers who tried to get round the new border restrictions by setting out on foot to the Suva river area, where there is no fence.

Media present at the scene said that families with small children carrying all their belongings tried to cross by holding onto a rope in order not to be swept away by powerful currents.

The exodus came after the Western Balkan closure, last week, created a build-up of 12,000 people who are living in miserable conditions on the Greek side.

Those who managed to cross the river were detained by the Macedonian police or army for illegally crossing the border. Macedonia said they’ll be sent back to Greece.

Police also took the group of about 20 journalists who followed the migrants from Idomeni to a police station in Gevgelija, Macedonia.

EU leaders are meeting in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to work out the details of a broader agreement with Turkey on the refugee crisis.

Under the deal, Turkey would take back asylum seekers from Greece, while EU countries would resettle refugees directly from Turkey.

Part of the objective, as laid out in an earlier summit on 7 March, is to deter people from risking their lives in Agean crossings.

Despite the draft accord, 1,700 people landed on Greek islands from Turkey in the past 24 hours, the French press agency, AFP, reported.

Fourteen EU states have sent humanitarian aid to Greece to help manage its nationwide build-up of 40,000 asylum seekers.

The European Commission said that over the weekend, the Netherlands delivered 12 minivans and 90 electricity generators. The UK sent over 1,000 tents and France sent four sanitary containers, 12 sheltering containers and 5,000 jerry cans.

Austria, Germany, Spain, Lithuania, Hungary, Norway and Sweden are to make additional deliveries this week.

Merkel sticks to course

German chancellor Angela Merkel admitted on Monday that Germany has benefited from the decision of Balkan countries to close their borders to migrants.

But she said it can't be a long-term solution.

"It is unquestionable that Germany benefits from it [the route closure], but we can see from pictures out of Greece that that is not a sustainable solution," she was quoted as saying by AFP.

She spoke after her centre-right CDU party suffered a serious defeat on Sunday in regional polls over her liberal refugee policy.

The chancellor is now counting on the deal with Turkey to get a grip on the crisis. "I think that the [Turkey] approach is correct," she said on Monday.

Greece and Turkey intensify joint work on migrants

Greece and Turkey sign agreements to be able to send back migrants to Turkish soil, as Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia introduce tight restrictions, essentially shutting down the route for refugees.

EU-Turkey plan: no refugees on Greek islands

According to a new deal discussed Monday, Turkey would take all migrants who crossed illegally into Greece, while the EU would take Syrians directly from Turkey among other new concessions.

Interview

Syrian 'love story' hopes to prompt EU compassion

An award-winning film about a Syrian family’s experience of the war could make Europeans more compassionate toward refugees, its main protagonist and its director tell EUobserver

Greek government rocked by nationalist row

Just before the EU refugee summit, the defence minister and crucial ally to PM Tsipras wants the migration minister to resign after he used the disputed name Macedonia to refer to Greece’s neighbour.

France tightens immigration law, sparking division

French lawmakers are cracking down on asylum seekers in a bid to send those rejected back home. Controversial measures they passed over the weekend will now be debated in the French senate in June.

Opinion

Calling time on European-Turkish strategic relations

With an Erdogan-Putin summit on Tuesday, joined by Iran on Wednesday, it is time for Europe to face facts - Turkey's ties with the West are no longer strategic. When Europe goes hither, Turkey deliberately goes thither.

EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints

EU policy and law makers are ironing out final details of a legislative reform on collecting the fingerprints of asylum seekers and refugees, known as Eurodac. The latest plan includes possibly using coercion against minors, which one MEP calls "violence".

News in Brief

  1. Far-right attack migrants on Greek island
  2. Merkel defends accepting UN refugees
  3. EU commissioner plans Malta 'money laundering' inspection
  4. Survey: Half of high polluting farms receive CAP subsidies
  5. Commission will 'not shy away' from Malta killing repercussions
  6. EU Commission opens probe on Alitalia state loan
  7. Paris suspect given 20-year sentence for Brussels shoot-out
  8. Merkel and Pena Nieto praise EU-Mexico trade agreement

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers12 Recommendations for Nordic Leadership on Climate and Environment
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOxford Professor Calls for an End to the Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  3. ACCAPeople Who Speak-Up Should Feel Safe to Do So
  4. Mission of China to the EUProgress on China-EU Cooperation
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersWorld's Energy Ministers to Meet in Oresund in May to Discuss Green Energy
  6. ILGA EuropeParabéns! Portugal Votes to Respect the Rights of Trans and Intersex People
  7. Mission of China to the EUJobs, Energy, Steel: Government Work Report Sets China's Targets
  8. Martens CentreJoin Us at NET@WORK2018 Featuring Debates on Migration, Foreign Policy, Populism & Disinformation
  9. European Jewish CongressKantor Center Annual Report on Antisemitism Worldwide - The Year the Mask Came Off
  10. UNICEFCalls for the Protection of Children in the Gaza Strip
  11. Mission of China to the EUForeign Minister Wang Yi Highlights Importance of China-EU Relations
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersImmigration and Integration in the Nordic Region - Getting the Facts Straight

Latest News

  1. Spanish navy makes bid for EU anti-pirate HQ
  2. How Russian propaganda depicts Europe - should we worry?
  3. MEPs tell Chinese ambassador of concerns on trade
  4. Greenland votes with eye on independence
  5. EU court delivers blow to anti-abortion activists
  6. Hungary activists defiant after 'Soros Mercenaries' attack
  7. European Commission proposes whistleblower protection law
  8. Secrecy of VW fraud report 'unacceptable', says MEP