EU set to close the Balkan route to migrants

Photo: REUTERS / Yannis Behrakis

BELGRADE – EU leaders today will back closing down the Balkans route used by most migrants to reach Europe, diplomats said, after at least 25 more people drowned trying to cross the Aegean Sea en route to Greece, EurActiv.com reports.

The declaration drafted by EU ambassadors yesterday night will be announced at a summit in Brussels today, set to also be attended by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu.

The bloc’s 28 leaders will ask Davutoğlu’s government to accept “large-scale” deportations of economic migrants from Greece, the main entry point to Europe, and do more to implement a November deal to slow the flow of people into the bloc.

Greece has seen non-EU Macedonia and EU countries on the western Balkans route virtually shut their borders in a domino effect, trapping Syrian and other asylum seekers desperate to head north to wealthy Germany and Scandinavia.

An EU diplomat told journalists that European leaders would declare Monday they will “close the Balkans route in the coming days,” ending the “wave-through approach” to migrants that has caused chaos and tension in Europe.

Another diplomat confirmed that the language contained in an earlier draft declaration remained: “Irregular flows of migrants along the western Balkans route are coming to an end.”

The diplomat cautioned that delegations were still looking at the draft, as is always the case before a summit.

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