A day after security forces of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) fired tear gas and plastic bullets at refugees attempting to breach the border fence near the Idomeni camp, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos condemned the violent response, suggesting that actions of this sort are detrimental to the Balkan state’s EU and NATO ambitions.
A dispute with Greece over the country’s official name, which is shared by a northern Greek province, has blocked Skopje's efforts to join NATO and the European Union.
“Such unthinkable and unacceptable acts have no place in the EU and NATO,” Pavlopoulos said during a meeting with visiting Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa in Athens.
“We must defend Europe and we must treat refugees with respect to the principles of humanitarianism and solidarity,” he said.
The Portuguese premier, whose country has offered to receive 10000 refugees by the end of the year as part of its participation in the host program of the European Union, called for greater burden-sharing among the countries of the bloc.
“The answer, of course, is not to shut down the borders as this runs against one of the fundamental EU values which is the free movement of people,” Costa said.
FYROM security forces fired tear gas and rubber bullets, and medical aid agencies said they treated about 300 people. FYROM authorities said 14 police offers and nine soldiers were wounded. Greek police did not intervene.