Tensions Escalate On Greek-Macedonian Border As Former German Cabinet Minister Is Accused Of Aiding Migrants

Greek-Macedonian border

The German press is alleging that former cabinet minister Norbert Blüm was directly involved with the migrants who left Idomeni to march on Macedonia.

A pamphlet has arisen which supposedly shows a map of routes out of Greece. At the bottom of the pamphlet, written in Arabic, are the words “Kommando Norbert Blüm” which look like a signature for the document.

The former German Secretary of State for Employment — a member of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party who were hammered in Sunday’s regional elections — was visiting the camp this weekend to show his solidarity with the migrants by spending the night with them on Saturday.

When confronted by German TV channel ARD Mr. Blüm said: “I have compassion for this act of desperation, but I didn’t initiate it.”

Police on the northern border of Greece state that at least 1,000 migrants who managed to sneak into Macedonia were being returned to Greece without the consent of the Greek government, reports reports Greek news site Ekathimerini. The police said the migrants were all returned on Monday, but Greek Deputy Defence Minister Dimitris Vitsas said Tuesday that the government would not confirm if the report was true. He added they could not deny if hundreds of migrants had managed to cross the border.

It is unclear whether migrants who crossed into Macedonia were from the Idomeni camp where No Borders activists encouraged many to try their luck at getting through the fortified border, leading to the deaths of at least three migrants who attempted to navigate a river into Macedonia.

“What I know is that any procedure will take place via the usual diplomatic means,” the Deputy Defence Minister said after Greek media quizzed him on a report from police sources saying that at least 500 migrants were dumped back over the border.

Police at the Idomeni camp are much less hesitant to accuse Macedonia of returning migrants. An unnamed police source said that Macedonia had indeed returned migrants to the country:

“They take them by car through paths in forested areas where there is no fence and dump them back onto Greek territory.”

Macedonian media, meanwhile, claims that migrants say Greek Mafia took them into the country after each paying €200-300 to be taken through the border. Dnevik Online interviewed a woman from Iran who told them that it didn’t matter how many times the Macedonians deported her, she would try again and again.

Migrants themselves are also telling media that before being sent back to Greece they are being electrocuted and beaten by Macedonian army forces.

A Syrian man named Molham al-Masri claims that he and hundreds of others were surrounded by Macedonian soldiers who attacked them. Al-Masri joined hundreds of other migrants who, encouraged by activists, left the migrant camp at Idomeni on the Greek side of the border and entered the former Yugoslav Republic through a countryside route on foot. He told media: “They hit me with a baton… others were hit with tasers.”

After the alleged beating, he said that the soldiers rounded him up as well as the group of migrants with him, and put them in an army transport vehicle. The vehicle, he said, drove to the border, smashed through the border fence, and threw them out back into Greece telling them not to come back.


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