Politics

President Sends Letter to EU on Border Controls

By 20 April 2017

The European Commission did not want to comment on the letter.

The European Commission does not have a special comment on the letter sent by Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on the recent problems with strict border controls. The EU is ready to assist all member states in implementing new measures of systematic border controls in order to meet the security targets and at the same time avoid negative effects on traffic flow, said a spokeswoman for the Commission on Thursday. “We have no specific comment on the letter. We have received it and will respond to it,” said spokeswoman Mina Andreev, reports Večernji List on April 20, 2017.

Spokeswoman Tove Ernst, in charge of internal affairs and migration, said the Commission was in constant contact with all the member states and was ready to help implement the new regulations in the best possible way. “At the Commission's initiative, we organized a meeting of the Border Working Group on 12 April. At that meeting, the Commission provided additional explanations on how member states should implement rules and procedures, and what member states should do if they want to move from systematic to targeted controls at certain border crossings and for a limited period of time. That must be based on risk assessment and should not jeopardize the overall security,” said Tove Ernst. She added that the next meeting was scheduled for 28 April.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović sent a letter on Wednesday to presidents of the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission, warning the European leaders that Slovenia's use of stricter controls had caused long lines at border crossings. She urged them to facilitate the flow of people and goods on the Croatian borders.

President added that such action by Slovenia “gave rise in the Croatian public to the feeling that it is witnessing the implementation of earlier irresponsible announcements by certain Slovenian politicians who said that Slovenia could take measures towards Croatia and prevent the arrival of tourists as a means of coercion or retaliation, given Croatia's position on arbitration proceedings between Croatia and Slovenia.”

Prime Minister Plenković on Thursday commented on the situation following the entry into force of the new system of systematic checks of all passengers at border crossings. He announced that Croatia would use all possible means to resolve the problem at the border crossings and said that the strict application of the European regulations on border control for Croatia was “unsustainable.”

“For Croatia, as a country which is preparing to enter the Schengen Area and wants to make a contribution to the fight against terrorism, it is simply untenable to enforce such regulations on the border with other EU members,” said the Prime Minister.

“For us as a tourist country, in which tourism represents 18 percent of GDP, and for normal functioning of traffic and security, this situation cannot be acceptable,” said Plenković. He reminded that Croatia, due to long lines, had moved from systematic to targeted border controls. Hungary did the same, but Slovenia did not. “We will strive in a dialogue with Slovenian partners to change the regime,” said Plenković. "In any case, we will use all possible legal, institutional and political tools, through dialogue within the European Council, to solve this problem,” he stressed.

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