Interviews and Speeches

Interview of MFA Poposki for BBC Newsnight

Date: 29.02.2106

Journalist: Maya Rostowska




Nikola Poposki: We are eventually preventing illegal crossings from Greece into Macedonia since we have observed several of hundreds of thousands of people crossing this border over the last year and a half. Right now, what we are trying to do is to implement European Council decisions, prevent illegal crossings and have reception centers where we register migrants.

BBC: Today, your country fired tear gas on many people and many of them were children. Now, I am just wondering whether that is why you went into politics for?

Nikola Poposki: I don’t think this is a fair judgment. What we have seen is some 400 young male people trying forcibly to enter Macedonian territory from Greece. So, if you were part of the security forces facing a situation where you have violent attempt from several hundred young male people to enter territory with no willingness to register or to go to reception centers, I don’t think this is in line with what we have agreed on at European level. If you ask me, I think the easiest thing to do for Macedonia is to pull out and let all the migrants cross its territory on the way to Western European countries. It is precisely what EU member states have been lobbying against and essentially they have said that they want to have a comprehensive migration system and, that you have to have eligible asylum seekers that would have to register and that, if they fulfill the conditions they can continue their way to the European Union. Macedonia just happens to be a country that is not part of the European Union but is located on the main migration route.

BBC: Right. So, just let me be clear. Who is it that you blame for the predicament you are in?

Nikola Poposki: I don’t think that blame is the right formulation because every single country on this migration route has its own arguments. If you ask Turkey, Turkey will say they have been home to more than 2,5 million migrants in the past four or five years and that no one has reacted until part of these migrants have chosen to take part of this route and end up in Western Europe. Greece is in very delicate situation, because it is an external border of the “Shengen zone” but, on the other side, it has to defend the sea line that is very difficult to control. Then, Macedonia is the next border. Most of these migrants reach the Macedonian border within 24 hours from their way from Turkey and then they continue their route to Western Europe. I don’t think that the German role is easy in this story, because we have to have human treatment all the way on this route including the final destination for all these people that have need or are fleeing a conflict. Right now, we have to have a system, and the biggest problem is that this system doesn’t seem to work. Therefore, each one of us has to do the own part of responsibility on its own territory. If you are asking for a suggestion, I would say that the best thing to do is to focus all our efforts to the EU external border, to work in partnership with Turkey and make sure that there is a 100% of registration of legitimate asylum seekers that are allowed to continue their route and transit through Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and eventually arrive in Germany.

BBC: You must be disappointed to see Europe falling into the system of individual countries building their own fences?

Nikola Poposki: The last thing we would like to do is to invest public money in fencing a border. This is a small section and is done with one single purpose – preventing illegal crossing. If you ask British tax payers, they will make the same argument – that essentially, it is not something that is good but we definitely need to prevent illegal migration if we want to act responsibly. We will be the first ones that will act in order to dismantle these fences all across Europe, because we want to join the European Union. That’s our objective.