Interviews and Speeches

Interview of MFA Nikola for Israel TV Channel

Journalist: Royim Olam

Date: 12.03.2016

poposki izrael intervju

Poposki: I think that after Paris attacks happened there is no question that there are threats. It’s obvious that there are. We should not put an equal sign between migrants and security threats, but it is obvious that even a small portion of people have surfed on a wave of hundreds of thousands of migrants and that some of them have different agendas that might threaten our security and might end up with terrorist activities as practice has shown so far. The messages that we are sending is that we cannot experience the same kind of uncontrolled illegal migration as we have seen in 2015. On the mid run, it will discourage illegal migrants to come in to Greece.

What about in human aspect of the 10.000 refugees on the Greek side of the border with Macedonia. How should you treat them? I mean they have to drink, to eat, to feed?

Poposki: Of course. Well, we should make a distinction, because when we are talking about people in danger that are trying to save their lives or are threatened to lose their homes and lives they are fleeing to a safe country, and before they come to Macedonia, they cross at least two safe countries, the one is Turkey, and the other one is Greece. In our view, Greece is as safe as Macedonia is, and they are already on EU territory. Geography just wanted that it happens that they have to cross through Macedonia in order to reach other European nations. For us, the easiest way will be simply not to do anything, put big panels indicating Berlin 2.000 kilometers north and watch. That’s an easy approach. But, we thought and we have been convinced by our European partners that this is not the way we are expected to act, in a manner we have taken the responsibility for something that should have been done on EU members’ state territory.

What do you expect from the EU Summit next Monday?

Poposki: I think it will be naïve to believe that the day after the 17th this problem will be solved. I think it’s going to take much longer and I don’t think that practice has shown that all decisions that were made have been implemented right away. Therefore, between the decisions and the implementation, there will be certain period of time. In between, the best thing we can do is to help Greece handle the pressure that it has right now and in parallel, to try to work on readmissions, because a considerable amount of these people that have reached Greece, and after that some Western European nations are not necessarily fleeing a conflict zone and are not necessarily fitting into the definition of asylum seekers that should stay and be provided a heaven in Europe.

I must mention that your country is not a member of the European Union.

Poposki: Well, we have been in difficult situation because we were implementing decisions in which we didn’t participate. Therefore, it’s even more difficult when you are an outsider, a non EU member that has to do what EU has failed to do before. But, we have showed determination and capacity to answer this challenge of migration crisis so far. We still believe that there is space for improvement for better coordinated answer. The problem is that we don’t have exactly the same views from every single perspective on a short run. Probably, everybody agrees on the long run, that we should provide safe heaven to all those in danger and that we should not treat the same way people fleeing a conflict and those looking for a better job. But, however, on the short term measures, it’s obvious that not everybody sees the necessity of putting the same effort and the same type of measures at this stage.

In other words, you don’t see a unified policy of the EU vis-à-vis the refugees?

Poposki: It has been lacking in practical terms, because if we had a coordinated answer since the very beginning, I don’t think that we would have arrived at the current situation and we wouldn’t have seen over a million people arriving in Western European countries in a rather disorganized manner.