Tuesday

17th Jul 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.

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.

... our join as a group

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.

Opinion

Fate of EU refugee deal hangs in the balance

Europe's choice is between unplanned, reactive, fragmented, ineffective migration policy and planned, regulated, documented movements of people, writes International Rescue Committee chief David Miliband.

News in Brief

  1. VW owners to get diesel software update free until 2020
  2. Airbnb breaches EU consumer rules, Commission says
  3. EU sees no China free-trade talks
  4. Italy accepts migrant boat after help promises
  5. EU opens case on Siemens' Alstom buyout
  6. Trump: May found my Brexit advice 'too brutal'
  7. Italy will reject EU-Canada trade deal, says deputy PM
  8. Commission: Juncker suffered from sciatica attack at Nato

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Latest News

  1. EU and China agree on words, not yet on action
  2. EU is 'foe', as Trump seeks to make friends with Putin
  3. Let's not be 'naive' with Chinese partner, says senior MEP
  4. Trump, trade, and Brexit in EU headlines This WEEK
  5. EU and China edge closer in Trump's 'America First' world
  6. How the World Cup exposed Russian chauvinism
  7. Stage set for Trump-Putin finale
  8. Trump scuppers trade deal with UK under May's Brexit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us