MPs Question Government about Migrants, Fake News

By 14 November 2018

ZAGREB, November 14, 2018 - During question time in parliament on Wednesday, independent Mirando Mrsić warned about "the spreading of fake news and hysteria about migrants", inviting Prime Minister Andrej Plenković that they visit migrants together and make a statement that they were welcome in Croatia.

"How many crimes were committed by migrants over the past year? How many persons have applied for asylum and how many have been granted it?" Mrsić said. He in particular called out Živi Zid MP Ivan Pernar over spreading fake news about migrants.

Plenković agreed that there was a wave of hysteria and panic over illegal migration and urged politicians and the media not to spread hysteria unnecessarily. "We will continue to protect the border from illegal migration and when it comes to legal migration or a humanitarian approach, when it comes to people seeking asylum, we will act in line with our and European regulations, pursuing a responsible policy and eliminating the existing hysteria, drama and panic," he said.

Mrsić called on parliament's speaker and presidency to distance themselves from Pernar's statements and on the government not to allow the spreading of untruths in the media and rampant intolerance in society.

Miroslav Tuđman of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) asked about the security aspect of illegal migration. Interior Minister Davor Božinović recalled that Croatia has the longest external land border in the European Union, bordering on non-EU states, which he said was a challenge which no state could resolve alone. "Illegal migration is also a security issue," he said, adding that the government had asked that the states south of Croatia be included in dealing with the issue.

MP Bruna Esih of the Independents for Croatia party harshly criticised Prime Minister Andrej Plenković because of the UN Global Compact for Migration, claiming that he had “long ago shown” that the fate of “hysterical” Croatians isn't one of his priorities, while the prime minister retorted that the point of that document is to manage regular migrations and called on Esih to state what she found problematic in that document other than her impressions.

Esih questioned why so many EU member states were opposed to the U.N. pact on migrations. "Why all the heated debate, for God's sake, when its contents, as Mr Jandroković instructed us, are undisputed and unbinding," said Esih.

Plenković ironically responded that he gives her a "plus for her effort with her second query," hinting at the fact that she has only once raised any issue during question time in parliament so far. "The document you are referring to is the UN's response to a phenomenon that has occurred in Europe and the world in 2015 and 2016. And Hungary alone has expressed reservation to that document," Plenković explained.

Not one expert, he underscored, views it as a dramatic bomb, apart from certain actors and political parties with similar worldviews, who are trying to gain some points from this issue, he said. MP Esih said that she wasn't satisfied with Plenković's response.

Responding to a question by SDP MP Josko Klisović with regard to Croatia's foreign policy about the UN Global Compact on Regular Migrations, Plenković said that at not one moment in the past two years did he hear anyone say there were any problems with that document.

"I didn't hear that from the president either except that she intended to go to Marakesh and then said she wouldn't go. I didn't hear that any particular sentence was a problem, any formula or anything in the Global Compact about legal migrations. So as far as I am concerned, there is no disunity here," Plenković said in his comment on the recent statements made by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović on the Global Compact that is to be endorsed in Marrakesh, Morocco, in December.

"As far as state policy on migrations is concerned, be it regular or irregular, the policy is based on three points: to prevent irregular migrations, fulfil the Schengen Area requirements and to support all international efforts whether they are related to regulating legal or preventing illegal migrants," Plenković said and added that the government would discuss the Compact this week and then forward it to parliament.

For more on Croatia’s migrant policies, click here.