Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, and
North Macedonia are launching a joint operation at the country’s external
border today. More than 100 European border guards will support local
authorities with border surveillance and border checks, including patrolling, checking
documents and gathering information on cross-border crime.
North Macedonia is the fifth country outside the European
Union to host a Frontex joint operation. It highlights the growing presence of
European Border and Coast Guard standing corps in the Western Balkan region. As
a vital crossroad, the region is often the stage where human traffickers,
smugglers, and criminals attempt to evade the rule of law.
Reinforcing border management along North Macedonia’s
borders will contribute to further enhancing security at the EU’s external
The special opening ceremony in the capital city of Skopje
was attended by Prime Minister Dimitar Kovačevski, Minister of Interior Affairs
Oliver Spasovski, EU Ambassador David Geer, Member of the European Parliament
Lena Düpont and Frontex Executive Director Hans Leijtens.
“Today marks a significant milestone. We are here to launch
of a new Frontex operation that will strengthen and support the border
management efforts of North Macedonia. Here we find a dedicated partner who
shares our commitment to maintaining the integrity of our borders. Together, we
will work tirelessly to protect our citizens and ensure the safety and security
of the entire region,” said Frontex Executive Director Hans Leijtens.
“And we must always remember that our mission is not only
about securing borders but also about protecting lives and upholding the values
that define us as a community,” he added.
In a video message, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva
Johansson said: “More than five years in the making, Frontex border guard and the
Border Police of North Macedonia are standing side-by-side, the European Union
and North Macedonia shoulder-to-shoulder – fighting crime together and managing
North Macedonia’s Minister of Interior Affairs Oliver
Spasovski said: “With today's joint event with Frontex, we are sending another
very important message – that we are not alone in dealing with irregular
migration. That the strengthening of cooperation with the European Union and,
in general, the fulfilment of priorities from the European agenda bring
concrete benefits to our citizens.
“Because our common commitment in dealing
with irregular migration and cross-border crime will inevitably ensure greater
security for both the citizens of our country and the European Union. In this
joint action, we walk together, as equal partners, because only with a joint,
coordinated approach we will be able to successfully deal with global
challenges. The Frontex operation will at first cover North Macedonia’s border
with Greece. It will later expand to also include the country’s borders with
Albania and Serbia.”
The standing corps officers will support document checks and
assist the local authorities in establishing the nationality of migrants. This
will be complemented by training activities to develop regional border control
capacities and by the exchange of operational information, professional
experiences, and best practices. They will work under the command and control
of the Border Police of North Macedonia.
Frontex operations outside the EU
In situations requiring increased operational assistance,
Frontex is able to launch operations in countries neighbouring the European
Union. Before Frontex can launch an operation in a country neighbouring the EU,
a status agreement signed between the EU and the respective non-EU country
needs to be in place.
The status agreement between North Macedonia and the
European Union paving the way for the Frontex deployment was signed on 26
October 2022 and it entered into force on 1 April 2023.
For more information, see our Factsheet and FAQs below.