A group of migrants with children resting on the bank of the Meric (Evros) River at the Turkish-Greek border near Edirne, Turkey | Photo: EPA/Sedat Suna
A group of migrants with children resting on the bank of the Meric (Evros) River at the Turkish-Greek border near Edirne, Turkey | Photo: EPA/Sedat Suna

Croatia announced its willingness to accommodate unaccompanied minors "who are currently living in an inhumane situation in Greek refugee camps." North Macedonia and Serbia, meanwhile, said they are ready to close their borders.

Croatia is willing to accommodate a certain number of unaccompanied minors currently on the Greek Aegean islands, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Monday. He explained that the children would be those "currently living in an inhumane situation in Greek refugee camps."

The Croatian government currently holds the EU rotating presidency. "I don't see who could oppose the idea of helping children who find themselves in this situation," Plenkovic said, adding that the transfer will only involve unaccompanied minors without one or both parents.

The government explained that "receiving children is part of the EU aid plan to Greece" following the new crisis at the Greek-Turkish border last week. According to the government, taking in minors also "depends on the autonomous decision and will of each member state."

The number of children taken in will not be part of the mandatory redistribution quotas within the EU, which were set in the past to help Greece and Italy.

North Macedonia says ready to close border with Greece

Meanwhile, the interior minister of North Macedonia, Nakje Culev, announced that his country will completely close its southern border with Greece in the event of a sharp increase in migrants trying to enter Greece irregularly.

"Macedonia is in constant contact with Frontex and our EU partners," Culev said.

"In the event it becomes necessary, we will close the border, and we have all the skills to do so, also because we are better prepared in light of the previous migratory crisis [of 2015-2016]," he said, cited by local media.

Serbia will close borders if necessary

North Macedonia's neighbor to the north, Serbia, said it would hermetically seal its borders in the event of strong migratory pressure. According to Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic, the measure would ensure national security and the security of its citizens.

If needed, the country would be able to close its borders in the span of 12 hours, Vucic claimed. Speaking to journalists, the politician said he has issued instructions to the armed forces, the government, the interior ministry and all security agencies.

He further said Serbia has always shown solidarity and humanity to migrants. "But it can't happen that we end up the only victim, or, as some think, the countries of the Western Balkans," he said.

Following the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Serbia, Vucic appealed to Serbians to not give in to panic, to be more attentive and prudent as well as to follow the recommendations of doctors and specialists.
 

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