Germany, EU push to curb migration via Balkan route
Germany and the European Union are considering ways to reduce the flow of migrants to Greece and other Balkan countries. The idea is to turn migrants into citizens as part of a deal with Balkan leaders in October or November, said two officials familiar with the talks, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not allowed to speak on the record.
Migration has exploded in the past half-dozen years in Europe following the end of the Cold War. Migrant flows have swelled from fewer than 100,000 a year just before the fall of Communism to more than 500,000 during the last 20 years of the 20th century, according to the United Nations. They still remain modest.
But with a new wave of migration in the Balkans, many Balkan leaders want more people in their own countries, but their access to the EU and the EU’s common border defense system is limited.
“Now there are big gaps between the EU’s common border defense system and the access of the Balkan leaders to it,” said one of the officials. “Migration is one of the possible routes to solve these gaps.”
The idea emerged Monday in a new plan that EU leaders will negotiate during their October meeting in the Czech capital of Prague. The first step in that planning is to make migrants who reach Europe as dual citizens, officials said, to increase their bargaining power in dealings with the Balkan leaders.
Balkan leaders including former Yugoslav leader Alija Izetbegovic met with EU leaders on Sunday in Brussels to discuss migration. Talks are continuing.
The Czech proposal is for the EU to introduce a migration plan as a “package,” officials said. The package could be a joint effort by the EU, the Eu-Turkey talks, the Balkan leaders and the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm that leads the Union’s work.
The officials said that the EU