Since 2015 North Macedonia has been consolidated as a transit country along the Balkan route. The data and testimonies collected during the visit carried out by ASGI Medea project in 2021 provide a picture of a route that is growing significantly and of a country whose geopolitical position allows us to take a closer look at the instruments with which the European Union controls migratory flows outside its territorial borders.
The report on North Macedonia is accompanied by a specific appendix on the visit to Kosovo, a country that is still struggling to come to terms with its own tragic genesis. Less conditioned by external pressures, Kosovo faces complexities related to its nature as a country of emigration to the European Union.
As to the contents, starting with an historical excursus on the refugee crisis in North Macedonia in 2015-2016 and the latest available data on trends related to migration movements, the report develops a brief examination of immigration and asylum legislation and then focus on the ambiguous role of transit and reception/detention centers in migration management.
The second chapter analyses some specific topics such as the management of unaccompanied minors, the response to the Afghan crisis put in place by North Macedonia following the Taliban’s seizure of power, human trafficking and the fight against human smuggling in relation to the criminalization of solidarity.
The concluding part of the report focuses on the influence that EU policies have on domestic migration management policy, focusing on instruments such as readmission and police cooperation agreements, on the forthcoming operational role of Frontex and the presence of European agents in border areas (on the basis of non-public bilateral agreements), on the state of the complex process of EU accession and the consequent disbursement of funds for migration management.
Finally, the report includes an appendix on Kosovo that helps to outline the country’s still rather marginal role in the route, highlighting, however, some interesting aspects, such as the high number of applications for protection (in proportion to the low number of people in transit), the bilateral agreement with Denmark for the expulsion of foreign nationals in Kosovo prisons and the consequent expulsion process, and the escalation of tension with Serbia in recent weeks.