Interview of MFA Nikola Poposki for the Italian News Agency ANSA

Date: 4 March 2016

Journalists: Renata Trajcevska and Franco Quintano

 

ansa

The Republic of Macedonia which up until now has largely dealt with the migrant crisis using its own funds and resources, expects increased support from the European Union, said the minister of foreign affairs, Nikola Poposki. “To this day we haven’t received the necessary funds from the European Union in order to deal with such an extraordinary situation as the migrant crisis”, emphasised Poposki in the interview with the Italian News Agency – ANSA.

He also added: “Macedonian institutions draw assets entirely from their own resources, although they have good cooperation with non-governmental and humanitarian organisations that are active on the ground and receive funds in coordination with the EU.” This does not mean, said the minister, that Macedonia has no cooperation or assistance in relation to other sectors, for example in terms of the alignment with European Normative. But right now, as far as the migrant crisis is concerned, we rely solely on our own resources and we have borne costs in the amount of tens of millions of Euros.”

According to Poposki, the migrant issue can be solved only by establishing efficient control along the external borders of the Schengen-zone. “This is not an easy thing to do since Greece has a sea line border as well as numerous islands.”Poposki, however, did not deny the threat of terrorist infiltrations among the inflow of migrants along the Balkan route. “It is very naïve to think we are unaware of the fact that the mass of migrants can also include someone related to extremism or terrorist activities.”

He added, of course, that this is probably a marginal phenomenon in comparison to the huge mass of migrants on their way to Western Europe, “but it is an existing phenomenon, nonetheless.” “With the attacks in Paris we realised that extremists and possible terrorists do not have difficulties using the migrant route”, said Poposki. According to the minister it is essential to have a system for checks, registration and screening in order to process the asylum requests with the goal of reducing the risk of terrorist infiltrations, but this system “certainly does not eliminate those risks”.

The foreign minister expressed hope that the internal political crisis in Macedonia will be surpassed with the early election on 5 June, and mentioned the relations with Italy, a countrywhich “in these past years has been one of the largest supporters of Macedonia’s EU integration.” The minister emphasised: “Italy is one of the largest countries in the EU, it is located closest to our region and that is why it has an interest in the integration of the Balkan region into the European Union and NATO. Furthermore, Italy is an important economic partner and in these last years the country helped create a positive trend in the development of trade relations and investments.” Actually, the minister underlined that: “At the moment Italy is in the fourth place in terms of trade and investments.” Poposki also mentioned the large Macedonian Diaspora in Italy which contributes to strengthening the relations between the two countries, increasing interest in learning Italian, a language used in primary and secondary schools, in high schools and universities.

Read the interview at the following link.