Tensions peaked at Greece’s border with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over the weekend after the FYROM army started building a border fence to keep out would-be migrants.
FYROM border guards were photographed by foreign news agencies as they erected a 2.5-meter-high fence along the Greek border on Saturday.
A FYROM army source quoted by Agence France-Presse said the crossing from Greece to FYROM would remain open and that the fence was aimed at ensuring migrants did not try to slip across at other spots.
FYROM authorities had indicated in recent weeks that they might build a fence to limit the number of migrants pouring into their country from Greece and border guards recently started filtering the migrants they allow through, granting entry only to people from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. As a result, hundreds of migrants from other countries, including Iran and Pakistan, have gathered in and around the Greek border town of Idomeni, protesting and demanding passage.
In a recent interview with Kathimerini and other Greek media, FYROM’s Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki said that the EU’s border monitoring agency Frontex should establish a presence at Greece’s border with FYROM. He suggested that jihadists were slipping through. “There is no doubt that many of the ‘fighters’ returning from Syria take the Balkan route,” he said. “Maybe one in every 100,000.”
The tensions over the weekend coincided with yesterday’s EU leaders’ summit on the refugee crisis, which focused also on the role of Turkey, a key transit country for migrants heading toward Europe via Greece.