Shutting down FYROM border will slow refugee flow, Kurz says

15 February 2016
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Closing Greece’s northern border with Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will stem the refugee flow into Europe, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has said.

“If the norther border is shut down leaving Greece for more than 24 hours with the refugees on its territory then its interest in accepting European help will quickly change,” Kurz said in an interview with Greek Ta Nea daily.

“Refugees begin their journey when they know that they will reach Europe soon. If this prospect disappears, the number of those who set out will drop,” the Austrian minister said in comments translated from Greek.

“We must slow the refugee inflow. That can only happen if we stop them at some border. If it is not the Greece-Turkey border, then it will have to be the Greece-Macedonia border,” he said.

Despite objections from Germany, the so-called Visegrad Group summit – an alliance of Czech, Hungarian, Polish and Slovak leaders – is scheduled to discuss a backup border control system with FYROM and Bulgarian leaders in Prague on Monday.

In an interview with Kathimerini’s Sunday edition, former Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schussel said that Greece is a key player in the management of the refugee crisis and should “have every support from the EU and member-states.”

“What is at stake is restoring law and order at the entrance of the EU’s Schengen zone,” Schussel said, adding that in the matter of safeguarding Europe’s external borders, “Greece will play a key role.”

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