More than one refugee route through the Balkans

Written by on February 18, 2016 in Europe - Comments Off on More than one refugee route through the Balkans

The Visegrád Group wants Macedonia to assist Greece in closing their border. Alternative routes through the Balkans would thus grow in their relevancy. But which paths do the refugees favour?

The majority of refugees arriving in Europe today are doing so via the so-called Balkan route. More and more EU states want to channel this flow – if not stop it entirely. Since the summer of 2015, an informal “Coalition of the Willing” has been discussing a plan to go to the refugees directly in Turkey and divvy them up among member states. The discussions are being held by Germany, Belgium, Finland, Greece, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria, Sweden, Portugal, Slovenia and France.

In the opposite corner sits the eastern European Visegrad Group – Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia – who are calling for border closures. They want to seal the border between Greece and the Balkan states and assist those affected countries by sending additional personnel.

Despite the cold and stormy sea, more than 80,000 people have taken the risky journey from Turkey to the Greek islands already this year. When spring arrives, the number will only grow. At its peak last year, in October and November, those numbers were 10,000 people per day. Where will they go if Macedonia closes its southern border – the most frequented route?

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