Plenković: Croatia Won't Become Hotspot for Migrants

By 14 January 2020

ZAGREB, January 14, 2020 - Croatia will not become an informal hotspot for migrants, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in the European Parliament (EP) on Tuesday after several MEPs objected to the way Croatia's police treat illegal migrants.

Croatia will not become a country that will be an informal hotspot, Plenković said and added that unlike other countries, Croatia did not decide to build barricades and barbed wire but to protect the Croatian, European and future Schengen border with 6,500 police officers.

The solution is to protect the external border, particularly between Turkey and Greece where the eastern-Mediterranean and western Balkan routes begin, said Plenković, adding that Europe can act in crisis areas with its humanitarian aid, economic strength, conflict mediation and other tools.

After Plenković presented Croatia's priorities during its presidency of the EU, European Greens leader Ska Keller spoke about reports of alleged violence and abuse by Croatia's police against illegal migrants on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Addressing the EP plenary session, Keller claimed that migrants' belongings were destroyed, they were beaten and even shot at, and that the Croatian government has not stopped this nor investigated it.

That is not acceptable for any member of the EU nor any country anywhere, Keller said. Croatia's borders are Europe's borders, whatever happens there is the responsibility of us all, we will not turn our heads away from that, she concluded.

Plenković responded that in its treatment of migrants, Croatia respects all Croatian and European laws and international conventions and that not one of those accusations should be taken for granted.

I say that as someone who has visited that border area between Croatia with Bosnia and Herzegovina and I completely understand what sort of terrain that is and what the conditions there are like, Plenković said and underscored that all complaints regarding police behaviour are investigated.

Most of the critics of Croatia's migrant policy were from the Greens and the left, including Malin Bjork, who said that she had visited the border between Bosnia and Herzegovina with Croatia and noted that in 2019 alone more than 25,000 pushbacks had occurred there without any administrative procedures being undertaken.

Croatian MEP Tomislav Sokol (HDZ) responded that those were untruths as the reports referred to were not by the relevant bodies. He underlined that Croatia is respecting the law, but Bjork said that in the very short time she visited the border she saw 25 pushbacks.

More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.