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Macedonia declares state of emergency on south and north borders.

Macedonian riot police fired tear gas to disperse migrants trying to cross the border to Macedonia on Friday. The video posted by the Reuters news agency also shows there are injuries. Macedonian media report that some 300 migrants succeeded in entering Macedonia on Thursday night and that a migrant injured a police officer in Gevgelija with a knife but the information has not yet been officially confirmed.

Over 4,000 migrants blocked the international Thessaloniki-Skopje railway, while more than 3,000 tried to enter Macedonia Thursday. Because of the overwhelming influx of migrants, the Macedonian Government decided Thursday to declare a state of emergency on its northern and southern borders. Interior Ministry Spokesperson Ivo Kotevski said the army would also be deployed on the southern border to provide better security for the local population and ensure better treatment of migrants. A special committee within the Crisis Management Center will also be set up to develop fast an action plan for handling the situation, Nova Makedonija reports.

The decision to declare a state of emergency was also taken in the light of the anticipated migrant wave in the next several weeks considering a passenger ship with some 2,600 migrants gathered from several Greek islands arrived in Athens a few days ago. The police and army will therefore patrol together to try to keep migrants from crossing Macedonia's border.

"Because of the mounting pressure on our southern border and the ever growing transit along the Balkan migrant corridor, and also in response to the situation globally, we estimated we need additional and more efficient control of the border zone where numerous illegal crossing from Greece are registered.

The engagement of the army is expected to yield results in two respects: first to provide better safety for the local population and second to ensure better treatment of those intent upon seeking asylum in the Republic of Macedonia. We are aware the heightened control on our southern border is not a permanent solution to the problem and therefore expect the EU to identify a uniform and humane response that will include all the countries that are hardest-hit by the migrant crisis and to show solidarity by sharing the burden," Kotevski said. According to the Macedonian police, the border from the Greek side is not controlled at all. On the contrary, the Greek authorities are transporting migrants to the Macedonian border with buses. According to unconfirmed information, Macedonia is entered by up to 3,000 migrants a day and this number is expected to further rise. Half of them report with the checkpoint at the railway station in Gevgelija where they sign statements that they would apply for asylum thus being granted a permit to move lawfully through the country for 72 hours. However, the other half do not register at all.

Moreover, Macedonia's railway system is not capable of transporting several thousand migrants a day from Gevgelija to Tabanovce. If every day two thousand migrants remained in the country, a parallel town the size of Gevgelija would be formed in a week. It is therefore necessary to close the border, the Coordination Body said.

Utrinski vesnik reports that the key question now is whether the containment of the migrants in the border zone could provoke anger and even clashes with the Macedonian armed forced. The authorities reassure that all scenarios have been taken into account and stress their top priority is maintaining security on the territory of the whole country.

"The migrant crisis costs us 800,000 euros a month," Interior Ministry Kotevski said. The authorities have no idea what the reaction of the European Union will be and say the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Greece and Serbia will be notified of their decision promptly.

According to the Interior Ministry statistics, in the last two months, since the asylum and temporary protection law was passed, some 40,000 migrants passed through Macedonia.
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Title Annotation:MIC NEWS
Publication:INFOMAC Daily News Service
Date:Aug 21, 2015
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