Macedonian foreign minister on refugee crisis: ′Opening up borders would be the most efficient thing′ | Press Releases | DW | 27.05.2016
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Macedonian foreign minister on refugee crisis: 'Opening up borders would be the most efficient thing'

On DW's "Conflict Zone," Macedonia's Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki told host Michel Friedman that "we want to join the European Union and want to be part of the European answer."

Poposki said, however, that if the Macedonian government was to decide, "the cheapest and the most efficient thing would be simply to open up borders and send people where they want to be."

Poposki said: "It is very illegitimate to attack Macedonia for doing what it is requested by the European Union. We are the only border were refugees and migrants are leaving the European Union in order to join a country that is not part of the European Union. Why would we fight the battle of others, unless we wanted to convince them that we are part of the European family."

Host Michel Friedman asked Poposki about a 2015 European Commission report stating that the situation in Macedonia "has been backsliding. Achievements of the last decade's reforms are being undermined by real and potential political interference in the work of the judiciary." Poposki said the account was accurate, then added: "One should look into the reasons. This country has been a candidate country since 2005 and has a recommendation to start accession negotiations since 2009. For how long can you hold a country like Macedonia so much dependent on the European future and its neighborhood in a limbo?"

On attempts to limit media reporting on matters of public interest, Poposki said: "I strongly disagree with the assessment that Macedonia has a lower freedom of speech rating than some of the countries that you have quoted. [Nigeria, Qatar] If you are telling me that Macedonia is worse off than some of the peers in the region including those that are in the European Union, that is not true." The foreign minister conceded that "it is a deficiency that we have in the area of media, so this is something that we need to tackle."

On Macedonian police using teargas and stun grenades against refugees trying to cross the Greek-Macedonian border, Poposki said: "We had literally an invasion of several hundreds young male individuals that used violence to cross illegally a state border." He added: "Every single refugee that has reached Macedonian territory has been treated humanely and safely. And this will continue to happen."

Renowned journalists Tim Sebastian and Michel Friedman take turns in presenting DW's top political talk show with German and international decision-makers. Michel Friedman joined "Conflict Zone" as a host in April. Friedman is a lawyer, university lecturer and renowned German journalist with more than 25 years of experience. "Conflict Zone" airs every Wednesday at 17.30 UTC and is available online on demand.

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