Interior Minister Attending Marrakesh Migration Conference

By 10 December 2018

ZAGREB, December 10, 2018 - Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović is attending the Marrakesh migration conference. He said that until now the UN had never systematically dealt with migration and that if it had, perhaps the big migration crisis which hit Europe in 2015 could have been avoided.

"This is a global problem which the United Nations has decided to start dealing with. The pace it will take is uncertain and how long it will take is also uncertain. However, it's a fact that a solution to a global challenge can be sought only globally," Božinović told Croatian reporters ahead of a meeting on Monday and Tuesday at which representatives of over 100 countries are expected to endorse the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.

Asked if one should be afraid of this document, he said there was "absolutely nothing" to fear about it.

"It is a document which I would say is a process of regulating migration in the future so that we don't have what we have on Croatian borders today. On the one hand, there are countries from which people are coming and one should address why they are coming, how to help them stay in their countries. On the other hand, there are countries which want the workforce as well as countries which, like Croatia, are transit countries, and these matters must be regulated."

Božinović said that from the start Croatia's policy had been not to allow illegal entry and strong diplomatic activity. "We have managed to raise awareness in the EU of the issue of countries on the Balkan route because the issue of migration through Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Macedonia wouldn't have been on the agenda without Croatia's engagement."

He said that in Marrakesh he would talk with representatives of the countries from which migrants were coming, such as Algeria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey so as to, "not just bilaterally but also at EU level", focus efforts on helping them keep their citizens.

Asked why many countries would not endorse the Global Compact, Božinović said "the majority of EU member states support the agreement" and took part in its preparation. "I think it's a delicate issue. However, Croatia is very clear and transparent about this. We won't allow illegal migration but we are with all those who wish to resolve this issue at the source."

"It is a fact that many actors are using this issue for internal political breakthroughs by releasing news that are unrealistic and untrue. There are also attempts to scare people with the migrant issue but everyone who lives in Croatia knows that we are very firm about this, that we will stay firm and that there's no need to believe those spreading fake news. Migration is here, it won't go away, but the organisation of the Croatian police and the Croatian state guarantees all our citizens and all of Croatia's guests that they will be safe."

Božinović said arrests for trafficking in humans had jumped 88% from 2017 and that this showed how efficient Croatian police were.

"I am sure that we have a realistic policy focused on the well-being of Croatian citizens and if the world comes together about this issue sooner or later, if everyone defuses tensions a little, I'm sure we will start coming closer to solutions. Let's be realistic. Whatever anyone claims, if the EU hadn't reached an agreement with Turkey and if Turkey hadn't closed its borders, who knows what Europe would look like today," he said.

You can find more on Croatia’s migration policies in our special section.