Defence Ministers of the Central European and Balkan countries meet to discuss migration

Autor: Nuala Casey and Oldrich Holecek

The aim of the meeting was to discuss control of the outer Schengen borders, the closing of the 'Balkan route', and broadening information exchange between the countries and border organisations.

The Ministers of Defence of the Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC) countries; Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia, held informal talks last week with their colleagues from Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia, with the current migration crisis top of the agenda.

"This situation, while within the EU, resulted in a rather long academic debate, but we must now argue that the current solution to coping with the migration wave will be the effective protection of the outer Schengen borders. We all agree that closing the Balkan route and returning migrants to their countries of origin are the key elements towards solving the migration crisis.

We share a common view on the migration crisis, and agree that we should continue to explore ways to cooperate and improve information exchange, but, if 'plan A', which is the agreement between the EU and Turkey to ease migration, fails, then we must have a 'plan B', especially with regard to protecting the Macedonian borders," said the Czech Defence Minister, Martin Stropnicky, after the meeting.

"All the meeting attendees welcomed the Austrian initiative and agreed that, prior to the EU defence ministers' meeting in the first half of April, a letter should be prepared in which the Central European countries and the countries of the 'Balkan pathway' put forward a joint stance, and which would also recommend specific measures to handle the refugee and migration crisis," added Minister Stropnicky.

By Nuala Casey and Oldrich Holecek

April 5, 2016