Greece rages at neighbours as amid fears migrants could be halted
ATHENS – Greece raged at neighbours and began bussing hundreds of migrants back from its northern border on Tuesday, fearing it could be inundated with migrants halted by Balkan states trying to shut the main land route to Western Europe.
Athens filed a rare diplomatic protest with fellow EU member Austria for excluding Greek officials from a high-level meeting on measures aimed at curbing Europe’s biggest inward migration since World War Two.
More than a million migrants and refugees passed through Greece last year, and nearly 100,000 have already arrived this year. Nearly all reached Greece by sea and travelled onward by land over the Balkan peninsula to richer EU countries further north and west, above all Germany.
But several of the countries along that route have been taking measures to close their frontiers, prompting those further down the chain to impose similar restrictions to prevent a bottleneck.
Greek police removed migrants from the Greek-Macedonian border on Tuesday after additional passage restrictions imposed by Macedonian authorities left hundreds of people, mainly Afghans, stuck at the border.
About 450 of them were loaded onto buses to be taken to reception centres in Athens, joining hundreds more fresh arrivals from outlying Greek islands who arrived on the Greek mainland on Tuesday morning.
“I will continue on to Macedonia,” said Abdulah Farash, 21, a student from Syria. “My friend and I want to go on to Germany… it was important to reach Greece through Izmir,” he said of a Turkish Aegean port where many migrants set off for the passage to Greece. “Then things are easy.”
At the border with Macedonia on Monday, witnesses said Syrian refugees who did not have all travel documents, including passports, were turned back. -Reuters