Time: 1:45 a.m. CEST
Photography, videography and writing by Aleksandra Dukovska
Nikola Poposki, current Republic of Macedonia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs expressed his hopes the cooperation the country has with Austria will reflect in the next-period cooperation with Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, where Austria on January 1 took over 2017 OSCE Chairmanship.
The points for cooperation within this organization are in the three aspects Austria decided to promote during the period of rotating chairmanship, and those are dealing with complex crisis and conflicts in the OSCE area, a fundamental lack of mutual trust and focus to decrease possibilities of growing radicalization and violent extremism.
Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs and current OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Sebastian Kurz, briefly talked to gathered news reporters in MFA in Skopje about those priorities.
Poposki and Kurz visited the border area between Macedonia and Greece close to town Gevgelija, where almost one year ago surge of refugees arrived from Greece and passed through Macedonia toward countries of European Union.
After the visit of the border area, in Skopje’s offices of the Ministry, Poposki highlighted the situations in which Macedonia decided to accept the ideas for closing of the Western Balkans route to refugees mostly arriving of Syria, Iraq, Iran or Afghanistan.
“We closed Balkan route, we introduce system of security, of human treatment of all migrants, and for all who had need of it. Subsequently, we introduce control of the border,” Poposki stated in Skopje.
Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Kurz, who is coming of the European People’s Party, representing European center and center-right group, thanked Macedonia for preventing the surge of refugees. As Kurz stated, “we have cut the route by 98 percent, and 98% fewer people use this route, compared to 2015.”
Kurz said that in the past four months same number of people entered as previously entered for only one or two days. Kurz explained the positions of Austrian chairmanship with OSCE, which will focus on preventing radicalization and dealing with conflicts, as already existing one is in Ukraine.
Poposki, who answered few questions, pointed out that the cooperation between Macedonian and Greece police, explaining the last-year developments at the border, which led to day-to-day coordination, evaluated as “close to miracle.” Although, Poposki said that should not lead to conclusion for prompt solution to the dispute, referring to decades long name issue.
Kurz, who spoke Austrian German to reporters, reportedly answered that he is not regretting for the participation at VMRO-DPMNE’s rally in November last year, in support for that political party coalition.
Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs on Monday visits Serbia, where he would attend meetings with prosecutors and police officers from Bulgaria, Croatian and Serbia’s Task Force on Combating Human Smuggling, focused on organized-crime groups and migrant smuggling, OSCE announced. Austria deployed police officers along the border area between Macedonia and Greece, where last year surge of refugees and migrants arrived with hopes to continue toward Europe.
After initial welcome and after the deal between European Union and Turkey, EU supported the plan to close Western Balkans route, initially open after few interventions and clashes between riot police and refugees and migrants. Majority of the parliamentarians of the previous Parliament in Macedonia voted in October 2016 to continue the “existence of crisis,” until June 30, 2017.