MUP denies Serbia closed border with Macedonia to migrants

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Serbia has not closed its southern border with Macedonia to migrants, the Serbian Interior Ministry (MUP) told B92 on Friday.

The MUP said that yesterday’s agreement reached by regional police directors is now being implemented, allowing only refugees previously registered at the Greece-Macedonia border to enter Serbia.

Head of the ministry’s press office Biljana Popovic-Ivkovic told Tanjug that Serbia had started implementing Thursday’s deal of police chiefs from the region, which provides for the introduction of joint registration of refugees at the Greece-Macedonia border and their organized transport to Austria.

“As of today, all signatories to the protocol will be profiling migrants on the Greece-Macedonia border, which implies tighter border controls to prevent illegal migration,” Popovic Ivkovic said.

Under the protocol, the authorities should identify migrants and take their biometric data to make sure they come from countries in which their life has been in jeopardy, such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Macedonian Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski told Tanjug today that his country’s borders with Serbia and with Greece had not been closed, and that migrants were being let trough to Serbia, adding that “the profiling” was now being done, in line with Thursday’s agreement.

Serbian Commissioner for Refugees and Migrations Vladimir Cucic told Tanjug that “this is not about a closure, but about a technically conditioned slow-down, in order to create conditions to start implementing the agreement.”

Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti said earlier in the afternoon that the border was closed, and added: “Considering that yesterday afternoon no trains with migrants departed from Sid (near Serbia-Croatia border), while some 250 refugees were still on their way from Presevo (southern Serbia) to the Croatian border, our country decided in favor of this step in order to avoid people piling up here.”

State broadcaster RTS was reporting earlier on Friday that the reception center in Presevo confirmed that not a single migrant had arrived there since 08:00 CET this morning, adding they “do not know if migrants would continue to arrive.”

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