Speaking to a German newspaper, the President of Macedonia has said his country has been “left in the lurch” by the European Union (EU), which has lavished money and support on Turkey but ignored their work to stem the migrant crisis.
Macedonia has been criticised for closing their borders to Greece, which has left a rapidly spiralling number of migrants building up there, unable to continue north to their intended destinations, rich and generous European nations like Germany and Sweden. But now the Macedonian president has hit back at this criticism, and his nation’s treatment at the hands of the EU, calling the leadership in Brussels slow and hypocritical, and German security policy a failure.
Described as “angry” at the actions of the EU, president Gjorge Ivanov has described in an interview with Bild the way Macedonia has repeatedly tried to contribute to the security of Europe, only to be repeatedly rebuked. He described a particular sense of betrayal at witnessing Greece receive hundreds of millions of euros for the impact of the migrant crisis, and Turkey, which he described as “non-European” taking billions while Macedonia was ignored.
Speaking of his nation’s work to protect Europe, president Ivanov said: “It is not the first time Macedonia has been left in the lurch by the EU, we know that! When we took 360,000 refugees during the Kosovo war, nobody helped us. So now we have responded pro-actively, and we are using the army to protect our borders.
“In the refugee crisis we have been paying for the mistakes of the EU, already we have spent 25 million euros of our own taxpayer’s money… and what did we get from Europe? Nothing… we’re not an EU country, not Schengen, not [a member of] NATO. Nobody wants us. Yet we protect Europe”.
Speaking of the institutional inertia of the European Union in the crisis, Mr. Ivanov said: “If we had to rely on Brussels, which has failed to act, we would have long ago been been flooded with Jihadists”. He mocked the EU for taking six months to organise a migrant summit, in which time “a million new immigrants” arrived, and questioned how capable Germany was if they were able to lose 130,000 “refugees” in their own country.
One major concern of the president was the lack of effort Greece was putting into their own border control, despite being in receipt of hundreds of millions of euros from the EU for that very purpose. Producing a stack of confiscated fake passports for the Bild journalists to inspect, president Ivanov explained that thousands of “so-called refugees” with false papers had been rubber stamped by Greece, allowing them to travel into the EU before being caught in Macedonia.
Macedonia has been an EU accession member since 2005, but negotiations to bring about their membership have been repeatedly vetoed by Greece, with whom they have a long running dispute over their name. Greece has on occasions dressed up this disagreement as a fundamental opposition to Macedonia’s accession on the basis of their political system — in 2014 former Greek foreign minister Evangelos Venizelos claimed they had a “lack of respect for European values”.