Macedonia President Slams EU over Crisis of own Making


Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov on Friday warned European Union leaders they must do more to help his country cope with a migrant crisis that he said they must take the blame for.

In a scathing indictment of the EU's failure to anticipate the crisis or to respond adequately to it, Ivanov said Macedonia was facing intolerable pressure because of the ease with which asylum seekers and other migrants can reach neighboring Greece from Turkey.

"The situation is no longer changing by the day, but by the hour," he said in Rome at a seminar of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

"Europe now has more walls than during the Cold War."

By trying to close its borders to prevent thousands of migrants flooding out of Greece, through the western Balkans towards wealthier parts of the region, "Macedonia is defending Europe from Europe itself," he said.

Ivanov also took a swipe at the OSCE, saying it had failed to anticipate the crisis, making a mockery of its supposed role as a pan-European security body.

"Where is the OSCE? Its early warning mechanisms failed to see this crisis coming. Does that mean it should erase the word 'security' from its name?

"The same goes for the EU -- it is great in times of peace and prosperity, not in terms of security.

"It removed its internal borders without securing its external ones and now every member state is having to take over the competency that the EU failed to exercise."

European Union leaders have pledged hundreds of million euros to Greece to help it deal with the relentless influx and restrict access to its massive, island-dotted coastline. Much smaller amounts are earmarked to help non-EU countries like Macedonia.

"Europe is only as strong as its weakest link and today that link is Greece," Ivanov said.

"The EU as a whole is only as strong as Macedonian security is. Therefore both Greece and Macedonia have to be helped, suggesting the Greek bottleneck be eased by flying people out.

"To avoid a crisis, it is necessary to empty the territory of Greece (of migrants) as soon as possible, not by the Balkan route but by air corridors."

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