A Week of Binding Decisions

The announcement itself was already somewhat different, and not for its completely monotonous form of convening a meeting, but for everything that had happened before that, which pre-defined the course of the dialogue, scheduled in two days in Brussels. All in all, it does not happen very often that we can almost accurately predict what will happen, although exactly this is possible for the aforesaid meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk. It is only necessary to review the political events of the last several days. Almost all of them were designed to seek solution to the large refugee wave moving to central Europe.

The so-called Balkan tour of the Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz was probably the most illustrative one. His message was same everywhere – in Belgrade, Skopje and Podgorica. First, that the Republic of Austria could not and would not accept more refugees than it had capacity for and that it was very close to the upper limit. He added, in Podgorica, that they would have to stop the inflow of refugees, which would have consequences for the entire region. Even before that, in Skopje, that Macedonia must be ready to completely stop the flow of refugees and migrants across its southern border with Greece.

This was followed by the announcement of the emergency summit of prime ministers of the Višegrad Group, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, which will be held today in Prague. I spoke with the vice-president of the Slovak government yesterday morning. I asked him about the purpose of the meeting. The answer was relatively simple, but very informative. Since the European Union could not or has not been able to prepare a comprehensive credible solution to the refugee issue, but has dealt with all types of issues related to quotas, it cannot simply transfer the importance of solution and leave it to the Balkan countries for decision.

This is the meeting point of political announcements, Kurz’s and that one at the Višegrad Group meeting. They also announce the content of central Brussels meeting. And specially if we have listened to news on the economic migrants, which Germany has started to return to Austria in large numbers these days, and the forecast of some kind of European mini-summit with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davotuglu on Friday. That is, immediately after the meeting with Tusk.

Therefore, we can announce that the borders will start to close for refugees after the meeting on Wednesday. Most likely, first in Germany and then in Austria.

Therefore, the meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, much like today’s one in Prague, will be “thinking” about the letter sent to several political addresses by the Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar, in mid-January this year. I can summarize his initiative in a thesis that it is necessary, instead of almost completely open  Greek-Turkish border, to establish other line of slowing down and control of refugees who want to arrive in the European countries, on the border between Greece and Macedonia. This means, to establish a space that would both enable the solution of contact and everything bad for those who are looking for new routes for being in danger, and the separation from those migrants who join this group in search of a better job and living opportunities in European countries. This would allow the asylum seekers a direct route to the first safe country, and, on first place, it would prevent a dangerous return of rejected refugees from one country to another. With all the political turmoil and disagreements, as well as disputes between countries of the so-called Balkan route, already burdened with the consequences of the recent wars in the former Yugoslavian countries.

We can predict that such a decision on the closure of borders and consistent compliance with the Schengen rules would be followed by the decisions on how to help Macedonia in material, police, and other forms of assistance. As far as I understand, the Macedonian president has a mandate to confirm the decision.

Such decisions, which should have been adopted or mutually agreed on Wednesday (the meeting will be attended by the President of the Croatian Government Tihomir Orešković, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić, and the European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker), are not inconsistent with the dialogues that German Chancellor Angela Merkel led with the Turkish president.

She has suggested that Turkey, in return for substantial financial assistance and political support during the admittance to European integration, establishes some kind of zone of check and care of refugees on its borders. Though seemingly due to various causes, Turkish solution is not very close.

Merkel is in hurry, also because of local internal political disagreements and more and more open coalition disagreement with her policies towards refugees.

Cerar’s initiative was a solution that would prevent the unforeseeable consequences of the closure of German and Austrian, and, consequently, Slovenian, the southern Schengen border, and, accordingly, waves of people of already unfortunate refugees from the human point of view, which the other countries on the Balkan route would exchange in a closed circle with more or less silent obligation. And at the same time force them more or less publicly to seek parallel routes through Kosovo to Montenegro and through Bosnia and Herzegovina to Istria and further to Italy.

I repeat, the political consequence of this decision for the countries in the region cannot be predicted. But they would be hard and even more difficult to repair.

The meeting on Wednesday with Donald Tusk brings the first solutions of both human suffering of refugees and the solution of their status. This week, if we follow the message of the Austrian Foreign Minister Kurz, the European Schengen borders will close, and together with the Macedonian solution, prevent the chaos of unfortunate refugees inside the countries of so-called Balkan route.

We can conclude, based on all aforementioned, that Cerar’s letter was written at right moment.