Austrian Newspaper: Balkan Route Closes, Refugees Trapped in Greece



idomeniThe Balkan route through which refugees can cross to northern Europe will close and migrants coming from Turkey will end up trapped in Greece, an Austrian newspaper says.

Der Standard claims it has seen a rough draft of Monday’s official statement that will be announced after the European Union summit with Turkey’s participation on Monday.

According to the report, the joint communiqué states that the “Route of the Western Balkans” will immediately shut down and that Europe will give Greece the necessary support to accomodate the migrants and refugees stranded in the country.

“Greece will be given maximum assistance in this difficult time, with rapid mobilization of all available resources from the European Member States,” the document says.

In addition, the report says, there will be a readmission agreement with Turkey for migrants who do not qualify for asylum. Turkey will be asked for direct and constructive participation in the control of EU external borders in the Aegean.

This agreement, which will take the form of an agreement between the EU and Turkey, will take effect as of June 1, 2016. Until then coordination will take place bilaterally between Greece and Turkey.

The draft further says that Frontex will strengthen its presence in Greece, at the borders with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Albania.

Frontex will be checking the proper functioning of the hotspots, where refugees will be recorded and then processed for relocation to other European countries. At the same time, Europol will undertake the dismantling of human trafficking gangs smuggling refugees into Greece.