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Southern Balkan States Agree To Coordinate On Migrants

Foreign ministers from Greece, Macedonia, Albania, and Bulgaria vowed to improve coordination handling migrants on the Balkan route to northern Europe.

"We are going to coordinate our efforts, we are going to try to avoid having solutions that are going to be at the expense of only one country," Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki said on April 22 after two days of talks in Greece.

More than 1 million migrants in 2015 made their way off smugglers boats from Turkey to Greece and then headed north by foot through Macedonia to Austria with the goal of reaching the wealthy northern states of the European Union.

But the route closed this year, as a crackdown by Austrian authorities caused a domino effect of border closures all the way to Macedonia's border with Greece, leaving thousands of migrants stranded in dire conditions in the Greek town of Idomeni.

During this week's talks, the four neighbors agreed that they should respond to vulnerable groups of migrants, such as unaccompanied minors, and work more closely to fight human trafficking.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said a coordination mechanism will be up and running within six months.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP

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