The Foreign Ministry of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has issued a demarche to the Greek Embassy in Skopje in response to a complaint lodged by Greek Ambassador Theocharis Lalakos regarding Sunday’s crackdown on migrants and refugees trying to break through the border between the two countries.
According to Greek news agency ANA-MPA, authorities in FYROM called on Athens to increase security at its side of the border, where thousands of migrants and refugees have been camped for weeks in the hope of crossing the border and continuing their journey to northern Europe.
The demarche came in response to criticism by Greek authorities that FYROM border guards had used unnecessary force against some 250 migrants and refugees who tried force their way into the country.
“Faced with people who were clearly not armed and constituted no serious threat, they attacked with chemicals, with tear gas and rubber bullets,” Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told reporters on Monday.
“This is a great shame for European culture and for countries who want to be part of it,” he said.
Defending its actions, FYROM said that its security forces “acted with the greatest possible restraint, sense of duty and professionalism, in order to deal with violent protests and the aggressive attempt by a large group of migrants to cross the Greek-Macedonian border.”
Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) on Monday said 200 people at the makeshift border camp in Idomeni suffered breathing problems, 30 sustained injuries from rubber bullets – three of them children under 10 – and 30 had other injuries.