25th October 2015

Juncker calls mini-summit on Western Balkans migration route

On Sunday 25 October, leaders of 11 states along the so-called Western Balkans migratory route held a mini-summit in Brussels. They convened at the invitation of Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, who does not usually organize such meetings. Prime ministers of Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia were brought together with the UN Commissioner for Refugees and a host of EU agencies. The aim was not changing refugee policy, Juncker indicated, but to discuss immediate and concrete measures to tackle the refugee flow. In the past weeks, tens of thousands of people moved mainly from Greece, through Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary or Slovenia to Austria and Germany. The situation became really inhumane, since countries did not provide any shelter and organized transports that passed the burden of refugees onto their respective neighbors. This resulted in cross-border conflicts for the countries involved, and in undignified treatment of the asylum-seekers. Late Sunday night, the leaders agreed in principle on the following measures: Greece will increase its refugee reception capacity by 30 000 by the end of this year. The office of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees will provide additional 20 000. Another 50 000 places will be introduced along the Western Balkans route, with the involved countries and the EU providing financial support. The states along the migratory route agreed to stop actions such as transports of refugees across borders to neighboring states and agreed instead on information-sharing, mainly through new high level contact points. The leaders also pushed Greece and Macedonia to commit to better border management cooperation. In addition, 400 policemen will be sent to Slovenia which struggles with unprecedented refugee flows since Hungary practically sealed its borders. These steps were agreed to in principle and will now be hammered out on expert level.

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Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic