Fico: Macedonia Still Needs Assistance from Slovak Police Officers

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Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and Interior Minister Robert Kalinak paid a visit to the Macedonian-Greek border near the town of Gevgelija (photo by TASR)

Gevgelija, March 2 (TASR-correspondent) – Prime Minister Robert Fico and Interior Minister Robert Kalinak paid a visit to the Macedonian-Greek border near the town of Gevgelija, where thousands of migrants are still in limbo, TASR learnt on Wednesday.

After meeting with Macedonian Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski, Fico said that Macedonia – alternatively known as FYROM or “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” to distinguish it from the Greek region of the same name – still needs the assistance of as many as 350 foreign police officers. The rotation involving 25 Slovak police officers in Macedonia is coming to an end, but since their work was commended the mission will continue.

In view of the next EU summit set for Monday, March 7, Fico said that if agreements involving Turkey, Greece and EU aren’t concluded, Slovakia will have to pursue the protection of external Schengen area borders elsewhere. “If Turkey and Greece don’t function, we’ll have to stop the migrants somewhere else. We came here to offer help to countries on this border, because if migrants start moving en masse across Europe it’ll be too late,” emphasised Fico.

Migrants tried to breach the border fence in Gevgelija on Monday. Fico’s and Kalinak’s visit was accompanied by loud protests from behind the barbed-wire fences.

“I’ve seen many horrors, but this isn’t a horror but a danger,” stated Fico, adding that he’ll continue emphasising the security aspect of the migration crisis.

“If we won’t protect the external borders rigorously, we won’t be able to protect ourselves from negative consequences of the migration crisis … If we continue to underestimate it and look as if nothing’s happening, we’ll wake up one day and see masses of people roaming around Slovakia,” added Fico.

Kalinak praised Macedonia for its latest activities. The country closed its borders with Greece for migrants coming from Afghanistan and allows only 300 refugees from Syria and Iraq per day to enter the country. “It’s admirable that Macedonia, as a non-EU member state, has taken over duties that Greece was supposed to be responsible for,” stated Kalinak.

Kalinak claims that he’s 100-percent sure that the migrants that are currently stuck at the border are not fleeing from war. He said that every war refugee striving to survive enters the first country that isn’t in conflict and there he applies for asylum. He described the protesting people behind the fences as tricksters. “They’re trying to leave an EU-member country and enter a country that isn’t a member of the EU,” asserted Kalinak, pointing out that there’s no war taking place in Greece.

Slovak representatives have also paid a visit to the temporary transit centre in Gevgelija and met with Slovak police officers stationed there since February 4. Their job is to patrol the borders, to secure public order and to register and examine refugees crossing the border.