Original title: Todor Petrov: Serbia puts up fence along Macedonian border – Macedonia to strengthen border control with GreeceOn June 22, the portal Galama published an article entitled Todor Petrov: Serbia puts up a fence along the Macedonian border – Macedonia to strengthen border controls with Greece.
At the height of the coronavirus but also at the height of the debate on the situation of migrants around the world who are blocked in their route to European countries due to the pandemic, the President of the World Macedonian Congress Todor Petrov, expressed concern over the information that the Serbian government panicked and from Presevo to the east, along the border with Macedonia and Bulgaria in the length of 33 km, and in order to be completed by early autumn, put up a fence to prevent the entry of migrants, equipped with spotlights and special razors on the tops, which would physically prevent migrants to enter Serbia.
With this false statement, Petrov warns that North Macedonia can become a gray zone in which all migrants will gather, a narrative that has been spreading in North Macedonia for a long time.
A link to the original text can be found here.
First of all, this is misinformation. It is true that the Ministry of Defense and the Serbian Army have announced a call for bids for public procurement, which clearly shows that the subject of the procurement is material for the construction of a wire fence for fencing the Reception Centers for accommodation of migrants and accommodation centers of asylum seekers.On May 22, 2020, a decision for procurement was adopted by selecting the most favorable bidder. But on May 26, 2020, a decision was adopted to stop the public procurement of wire fence material. The procurement client, in the case of the Ministry of Defense and the Serbian Army, as objective reason for termination of the procedure cites objective and substantiated reasons that could not have been foreseen at the time of initiating the public procurement procedure, ie. reasons for which the client’s need for the subject procurement ceazed, because of which it will not be repeated during the same budget year (that is in the next 6 months).
As can be seen from this decision, the procedure for procurement of wire fence material was initiated due to unforeseen circumstances and declaring a state of emergency (15.03.2020) as a consequence of the coronavirus epidemic, as well as the task of securing the Reception Centers and Asylum centers for migrants on the territory of the Republic of Serbia. Given that the need to provide centers on the territory of the Republic of Serbia by members of the Army has ceased, and in accordance with the Decision on termination of the state of emergency (from 06.05.2020), the need for the procurement in question has ceased.
“Vistinomer“, in order to check the relevance of the information, addressed the Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Internal Affairs: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs only briefly replied that they do not have such information. The Ministry of the Internal Affairs denied the news, informing that “we have not received any official information from the Serbian authorities regarding the erection of a fence on the Macedonian-Serbian border. At this moment, no protective fence has been erected along the mutual border, the Ministry of Internal Affairs responded.“
The narratives of this kind that North Macedonia is supposed to become a gray area of Western Europe for refugees and migrants from the Middle East, Africa and Asia are not new in the country.
Certain online media have been spreading narratives that migrants and asylum seekers will settle in our country, for a long time now. These anti-system narratives are intended to sow fear and undermine citizens’ trust in the system’s institutions. All in all, the authorities have so far never accepted, nor has the EU asked North Macedonia for such a thing.
Somehow traditionally during elections, migrants become a topic in public discourse. The F2N2 team has repeatedly processed misinformation that supports this false narrative. And for some reason, we advise citizens to check such texts and consult more sources before forming a final position.
This project was funded in part through a U.S. Embassy grant. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the implementers/authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Government.