Croatian Foreign Minister: "Influx of Refugees Must Be Reduced"

By 25 February 2016

Refugee crisis on the rise again

Europe must reduce the number of refugees and migrants who are coming and there can be no separate national solutions. Everything must be solved in a joint action so that the European Union can prove it is a credible global player, said on Wednesday in Rome Croatian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Miro Kovač after a meeting with his Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni, reports Večernji List on February 25, 2016.

"We need to reduce the number of refugees and migrants who are coming to the EU since we cannot accept everyone because we have to ensure the stability of the Union and keep its cohesion", said Kovač. He also said that Croatia is proud of the way it treats refugees and will continue to help them reach those European countries ready to receive them, but will not become a refugee hotspot. It will monitor what its northern neighbours, Austria and Slovenia, are doing, said Kovač.

Italian Minister Gentiloni noted that Croatia is part of the so-called Balkan route while Italy is dealing with the influx of migrants from the Mediterranean. He said that the two countries must deal with the problem on the basis of joint decisions and joint interests since any individual decision would be very negative and dangerous because it could start a chain of reactions which would be difficult to restrain.

In other refugee-related news, Serbian media report that there are long lines of trucks waiting to cross Serbian border with Hungary and Croatia. The reason is much stricter border control implemented by Hungarian and Croatian authorities. There are unofficial reports that Hungary introduced new measures in order to prevent the entry of illegal migrants from the Middle East to the country. The column at the Horgoš border crossing is currently three to four kilometres long. Due to the same reason, there are long waiting times at the Bajakovo border crossing between Serbia and Croatia as well.

Authorities in Belgrade announced on Wednesday that all Serbian security services were put on alert and that President Tomislav Nikolić had received a recommendation to convene a meeting of the National Security Council to analyse the situation with the migrant crisis. Warning that there are more and more economic migrants coming to the borders, Serbian Justice Minister Nikola Selaković said Serbia would be "humane towards all refugees and migrants, but it has to protect its interests". He denied media speculation that Serbia could start building fences and walls on its borders.

The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Wednesday that new restrictions for migrants on the Balkan route "create chaos at several border crossings" and condemned the "restrictive measures" introduced by several countries, including Austria, Slovenia and Macedonia. The measures introduced by Austria and the Balkan countries "create enormous pressure on Greece, which is struggling with a growing number of people in need of accommodation and assistance", said the UNHCR.

Due to daily quotas and profiling by nationality, migrants could get stranded at the borders and in desperation turn to human smugglers, warns the agency. "It seems that some European countries are more focused on how to keep migrants away from them than to responsibly manage the refugee wave and work in the interest of the public", reads the statement.