Saturday, 18 December 2021

PM Says Croatia Will Not Erect Fence on Border With BiH After Schengen Area Entry

ZAGREB, 18 Dec, 2021 - Once it enters the Schengen area of passport-free travel, Croatia will not erect a fence on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in an interview with the Večernji List daily Saturday issue.

Commenting on his visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina earlier this week, Plenković said that Croatia supports BiH's sovereignty and integrity as well as its spirit as agreed in Dayton - one state, two entities and three equal constituent peoples, noting that Croatia will not allow the inequality of Croats in relation to the other two constituent peoples.

"My position is clear and I reiterated it once again in Sarajevo and Mostar - Croatia will not erect a fence or a wall on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. That border connects us and that will remain so after Croatia's accession to the Schengen area. But that makes cooperation between our police forces and other relevant services extremely important, so that we can prevent illegal migrations," he said.

Schengen entry is not only a major privilege, it is also a major obligation for Croatia. Our state border with BiH, Serbia and Montenegro will become the external Schengen border and that is why effective, responsible and thorough control of the border will be a permanent task of the Croatian border police, Plenković said.

He added that agreement was reached during his visit to Sarajevo on the continuation of talks on a possible change of the categories of individual border crossings and on facilitating the flow of people and goods in line with EU regulations.

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Thursday, 2 April 2020

HAK Confirms Temporary Closure of 20 Croatia-Bosnia Border Crossings

ZAGREB, April 2, 2020 - Following an agreement between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, 20 border crossings between these two countries were closed temporarily at 7 am Thursday, the Croatian Automobile Club (HAK) said on Thursday morning.

In order to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina have agreed to temporarily close 20 of their mutual border crossings as of 7am Thursday, the Croatian Police Directorate announced on Wednesday.

The traffic is thus suspended at the following border crossings: Svilaj, Gejkovac, Pašin Potok, Bogovolja, Kordunski Ljeskovac, Lička Kaldrma, Bili Brig, Aržano Pazar, Dvorine, Cera, Jovica Most, Sebišina, Slivno, Podprolog, Unka, Vukov Klanac, Imotica, Slano, Hrvatska Dubica and Gabela Polje.

More news about relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Bosnia Starts Constructing New Svilaj Border Crossing to Croatia

ZAGREB, April 1, 2020 - Bosnia and Herzegovina started constructing a new border crossing to Croatia, located by the bridge over the Sava River in the village of Svilaj, near Slavonski Brod, it was announced on Tuesday by the Indirect Taxation Authority (UNO) of Bosnia.

The UNO and three Bosnian companies signed a €9.5 million contract on building the border crossing, which should be completed within 300 days.

The three companies that won the tender are "Niskogradnja" from Laktaši "Alfa term" from Mostar, and "Tehton" from Banja Luka.

Four lanes will be built at the entrance to the border crossing Svilaj, and three at the exit, which will facilitate the separation of passenger transport from freight transport.

The new border crossing is a prerequisite for opening the new bridge over the Sava River located in Svilaj, which would take some traffic away from Slavonski Brod, one of the busiest border crossings to Bosnia at the moment.

The Svilaj bridge is one of the key structures on the route of the future motorway in the Vc corridor, which will connect the Hungarian capital of Budapest and the Croatian southern seaport of Ploče. The Croatian section of the motorway from Hungary to Bosnia stretches over 59 kilometres, going via Beli Manastir, Osijek, and Đakovo.

At the Bosnian side of the border, a ten-kilometre stretch of the motorway from the bridge to the town of Odžak was built earlier, but it will only have a purpose after the remaining seventy kilometres of motorway to Zenica are built.

No deadlines have been yet given for finishing this infrastructural project Bosnia.

More news about relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 9 March 2020

Croatia and Bosnia Improve Cooperation in Migration Control

ZAGREB, March 9, 2020 - Croatian and Bosnian police cooperate well in controlling illegal migration, and the two countries should also address their outstanding issues through dialogue, Croatia's Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ivan Sabolić, said in an interview with the Sarajevo newspaper Dnevni Avaz of Monday.

Sabolić said that a recent meeting between Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović and his Bosnian counterpart Fahrudin Radončić was an example of good cooperation that had already produced results and improved communication, especially in fighting illegal migration. He noted that the recent Croatian government decision to donate police equipment to Bosnia and Herzegovina to help it improve border control and curb cross-border crime had also contributed to that.

Asked if Bosnia and Herzegovina could benefit from the Croatian presidency of the EU, Sabolić said that Croatia strongly supported Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU path based on meeting the set criteria, and noted that no other EU member state had helped Bosnia and Herzegovina with the membership application as Croatia.

"Croatia is the staunchest advocate and friend of Bosnia and Herzegovina's EU path, which will help incorporate European values into its legal system while at the same time respecting its particularities. The Croatian presidency unquestionably supports Bosnia and Herzegovina's progress towards membership candidate status," the ambassador said.

He said that the EU-Western Balkans summit in Zagreb in May would be a chance to reinvigorate the accession processes of neighbouring countries and give fresh impetus to the dynamic of their getting closer to the EU in the years ahead.

Sabolić said that outstanding issues such as one concerning the possible construction of a radioactive waste storage facility on Mount Trgovska Gora near the Croatian-Bosnian border should be addressed through dialogue but that there had been no such initiative from Bosnia and Herzegovina so far.

"If and when the institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina formally express the wish or need to discuss this matter, the Croatian minister in charge is ready for dialogue to address all aspects of the interest or doubts on Bosnia and Herzegovina's part," the Croatian ambassador said.

Sabolić said that the unresolved issues between the two countries were not insurmountable and could be resolved through dialogue.

He expressed serious concern about the equality of Bosnia and Herzegovina's three constituent ethnic groups, saying that it was undermined in practice to the detriment of the Croats and warned that it was necessary to prevent the possibility of one ethnic group electing representatives of another.

"Croatia supports a democratic agreement on a fair electoral law that will guarantee the adoption of European standards, prevent abuse and ensure equal status for the three constituent peoples and all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina," Sabolić said, adding that amending the electoral law would be a key step towards stability and progress, strengthening mutual trust and respect for the rights and freedoms of all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

More news about relations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina can be found in the Politics section.

Monday, 17 February 2020

Bihać Fears Escalation of Migrant Crisis on Croatian Border

ZAGREB, February 17, 2020 - The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is critical due to the problem of illegal migrant crisis and it will certainly be even worse as there is still no coordination in taking the necessary measures nor any indication that the new Council of Ministers might take more resolute action, an Una-Sava Canton official says.

"There is no coordination whatsoever between the state and lower level government. Although the Council of Ministers was formed two months ago, there is still no serious response regarding the protection of Una-Sana Canton when it comes to illegal migration," the canton's interior minister, Nermin Kljajić, was quoted as saying in Monday's Nezavisne Novine daily.

Una-Sana Canton is the hardest hit by the migrant crisis. Bihać city authorities estimate that there are about 5,000 illegal migrants in that region. Precise data indicates that 3,500 are accommodated in reception centres, while the rest are left to their own devices, staying in private accommodation if they can afford it, while others sleep in abandoned and dilapidated buildings in urban areas.

Kljajić says all reception centres have been full for a long time and that the situation is critical as BiH has no consolidated migration management plan.

Local police are having a hard time dealing with the challenges as the number of criminal offences is rising and there is no money to hire more officers.

A mild winter has already encouraged illegal migrants to attempt to continue towards BiH's western border, with more and more arriving in Una-Sana Canton every day. According to local police, at least 80 arrive every day and there is no room to accommodate them.

The canton's prime minister, Mustafa Ružnić, has said Bihać fears a likely escalation of the problem. "The worst is yet to come."

According to Ružnić, the cantonal government has asked that the Bira reception centre in Bihać and Miral in Velika Kladuša be dismantled and that a larger transit centre, where all illegal migrants would be accommodated, be set up outside residential areas. A location has been proposed but the state authorities have not taken the time to consider the initiative.

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

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Plenković: Croatia Will Never Put up Barbed Wire Towards Bosnia

ZAGREB, January 9, 2020 - Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday his government would never put up barbed wire on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina to stop illegal migrants because there were natural obstacles and that would be a bad political message to the neighbouring country.

He was speaking of migration at a meeting with foreign correspondents who arrived in Zagreb from Brussels on the occasion of Croatia's presidency of the European Union.

Some of our neighbouring EU member states have put up physical barricades and barbed wire. We haven't opted for that because we have natural barriers such as the Danube and the Sava rivers, mountains and forests, Plenković told a Dutch journalist when asked about the migrant policy Croatia would advocate during the presidency.

He said BiH was a neighbouring and friendly country with which Croatia shared many links and that barbed wire would not be a good political message for bilateral relations.

Addressing some 60 foreign journalists, Plenković said Croatians lived in many places on the other side of the border and that as prime minister he would never opt for building a barrier between Croatians.

He said it was necessary to stop illegal migration and reform the Dublin Regulation, adding that migration was the issue which, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, had changed the political mood in Europe the most.

A New York Times journalist asked if a country accused of beating and shooting at migrants, stealing from them and returning them from Zagreb to BiH could propose a reform of the migration policy.

Plenković said those were allegations, not facts, and that Croatia had opted for investing in police capabilities instead of barbed wire.

We are considering every humanitarian aspect. We have no proof of what you are saying, except two shooting incidents which occurred by accident inside Croatian territory. But that was accidental and it is not the official policy or the intention of the police, he said, adding that every complaint about the work of security forces was properly checked.

Responding to a question from a journalist of the UK's Telegraph, Plenković said Brexit was not a smart idea. Time has shown how complicated are the consequences of that decision by the then British Prime Minister David Cameron, he added.

A Wall Street Journal reporter asked if EU-US trade disputes would spill over onto the transatlantic alliance, to which Plenković replied that he believed there was common sense on both sides of the ocean, enough to avoid an escalation of those disputes.

He said the UK's exit from the EU was the right time for the Conference on the Future of Europe, with which Democracy and Demography Commissioner Dubravka Šuica of Croatia would be tasked.

A nuclear power and permanent member of the Security Council is leaving, and this is the moment for the EU to see what it must do to gain bigger support among its citizens, Plenković said.

As for countries which want to join the EU, he said that Croatia, as a country in this part of Europe, felt a responsibility for their European journey.

After talks with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, Plenković believes that France could change its opinion by the Zagreb summit on enlargement in May. Last October, France was the most vocal opponent to opening accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania.

He said Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi was working on a document which could amend the accession negotiations methodology, which could satisfy France.

European Council President Charles Michel and the entire European Commission with Ursula von der Leyen at the helm is coming to Zagreb on Thursday.

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

Monday, 26 August 2019

Border Police Head: Police More Effective in Detecting Crimes

ZAGREB, August 26, 2019 - The Head of Croatia's Border Police Directorate, Zoran Ničeno, has said that the police registered an almost 200% rise in the number of illegal border crossings in the first seven months of 2019, with statistics showing some 9,500 such cases.

In parallel, since a flow of migrants' started passing through Bosnia and Herzegovina, there has been an increase in the rate of detected criminal offences in this segment, Ničeno told the national broadcaster HTV on Sunday evening explaining that a rise in the detected criminal offences was also a result of the better organisation of the police work, flexibility and engagement of all police sectors in efforts to curb the inflow of irregular migrants.

For instance, the police arrested 505 migrants' smugglers in the first seven months of 2019.

Ničeno finds it disputable that Bosnia and Herzegovina's authorities have set up an accommodation centre for passing illegal migrants intentionally at the village of Vučjak, just a few kilometres from its border with Croatia.

He underscores that Croatia's law enforcement authorities have already seen media footage showing Bosnia's police officers pushing 200-300 migrants in front of themselves towards the border with Croatia in that area of Vučjak.

He criticised the attempts of the Bosnian police to make irregular migrants cross into Croatia.

The Croatian official once again dismissed accusations that Croatia's border police are pushing back migrants to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Media outlets disseminate information that illegal crossings of the border is something normal and that migrants are always right. The attention is paid only to the humanitarian aspect of this problem that is really worrisome, he added.

He explained that the police only deter the attempts of illegal crossings into Croatia's territory.

Ničeno appealed on international and local NGOs to inform migrants that illegal entries are not permitted.

He also informed the TV audience that an investigation is under way regarding the case of a van with German licence plates that was transporting illegal migrants which swerved in the River Kupa in the village of Slatina Pokupka near the town of Glina on Sunday morning while it was trying to evade a police patrol.

A woman lost her life in that accident.

While evading a police checkpoint, the driver jumped out of the vehicle and fled towards a mine-suspected area and the vehicle fell into the river. The police smashed the windows of the van while it was afloat and rescued 11 people.

However, one of those rescued migrants, a female migrant, who was receiving medical aid, died at the scene.

The police are searching for the fleeing driver.

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

Friday, 19 July 2019

Frontex to Arrive on Croatia-Bosnia Border?

ZAGREB, July 19, 2019 - Slovenian Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar has mentioned the possibility of sending Frontex (European Border and Coast Guard Agency) to the Croatian-Bosnian border to prevent illegal migration, his ministry said on Thursday.

Poklukar met with Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini on the fringes of a meeting of EU interior ministers and they discussed migrations and the situation in the Western Balkans, the Slovenian Interior Ministry said.

The two ministers agreed that the problem is not the Slovenian-Italian border but the external EU border which should be protected even better, the ministry said. They expressed willingness to help Croatia if it assesses that it needs help, and Poklukar mentioned the possibility of sending Frontex to the Croatian-Bosnian border, it added.

Poklukar told Salvini that closing the Slovenian-Italian border because of illegal migration was unnecessary and that the situation on the border did not call for it. Any restriction of the border regime on the border would interfere with the everyday life of people living along the border, the ministry said, adding that border closures in history had negative consequences.

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

Monday, 13 May 2019

Migrant Crisis Escalating on Croatian Border with Bosnia

ZAGREB, May 13, 2019 - The authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina have to urgently deal with the extent of the migrant crisis and undertake measures to control it because the situation in Una-Sana Canton, where the most migrants are located, has become unbearable, the canton's prime minister, Mustafa Ružnić, warned on Monday. The canton is located on the border with Croatia.

Participating at a meeting of the House of Representatives of the Federation entity, Ružnić said that there are about 5,000 illegal migrants currently located in that canton, yet there is accommodation for only about 3,200 in reception centres in Bihać, Velika Kladuša and Cazin.

Last year 19,200 migrants from 46 countries passed through the canton and twelve check points have been established due to the extraordinary circumstances that are constantly manned by police in order to control the influx of migrants, and the police is barely managing to do so.

In an attempt to reduce the pressure on the border with Croatia, the police in that part of Bosnia have returned 3,330 migrants since the start of 2019.

According to Bosnia's security agencies, more than 6,000 illegal migrants have entered the country so far this year, which is twice as much compared to the same period last year.

There are only two inspectors working with migrants in Una-Sana Canton and state and entity authorities have not taken any responsibility, and it turns out that the state simply does not have any strategy to manage the migrant crisis, Ružnić said.

He added that at this pace, Bosnia and the entire region will need to deal with the problem of illegal migrants in these numbers for the next ten years, and that it is necessary as soon as possible to undertake measures to control that problem.

The Una-Sana Canton's minister of health, Nermina Ćemalović, warned that the health system in the canton is under huge pressure and that the hygienic-epidemiological situation "is out of control."

During 2018, more than 30,000 migrants were treated which cost the canton's health budget more than 2 million euro.

She confirmed that about 90 HIV positive cases had been identified among migrants located in Bihać and that there were "silent epidemics" such as TBC which no one wants to admit publicly. "Health inspections in migrant reception centres have determined a horrific situation," she said.

She warned that the security situation in Bihać has become unbearable, with frequent break-ins, attacks and theft. "Bihać is occupied by migrants, 80% of them are illegal migrants," she said.

Bihać Mayor Suhret Fazlić complained that the Croatian police were returning migrants across the border in contradiction to extradition procedures. "I saw Croatian special police enter Bosnian territory armed with rifles. I saw that and I warned them about that," said Fazlić.

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

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Bosnia Wants to Solve Border Issues with Croatia, Serbia

ZAGREB, April 30, 2019 - Croatia and Serbia need to finally resolve the issue of the international border with Bosnia and Herzegovina as soon as possible and that would be the best proof of the readiness of these three countries to preserve peace and regional stability, Bosnia and Herzegovina's Prime Minister Denis Zvizdić said on Monday night after a Balkan summit in Berlin hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron.

A statement delivered to the media by Zvizdić's office notes that Zvizdić was explicitly opposed to drawing new borders in the Western Balkans based on ethnic principles and reiterated that territorial integrity, sovereignty and a multi-ethnic society need to be the only basis on which bilateral disputes can be resolved, particularly the issue of borders.

He once again called for the signing of agreements on Bosnia and Herzegovina's border with Croatia and Serbia "as an expression of respect for the European and democratic principle of the inviolability of internationally recognised borders, but also as proof of good neighbourly relations,” similarly to the way such an agreement was successfully concluded with Montenegro in 2015.

Zvizdić vehemently condemned connecting the solution to Kosovo's status with the Republika Srpska entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Clearly referring to incumbent chairman of the country's presidency, Milorad Dodik, Zvizdić said that he strongly condemned the "anti-constitutional conduct of those who are drafting some new borders across the territory of independent and internationally recognised states."

Zvizdić's message to Merkel and Macron was that in the existing circumstances the best support for Bosnia and Herzegovina would be to award it with the candidate status for accession to the EU and support efforts to activate the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP).

He announced that Bosnia and Herzegovina would remain a constructive partner in all regional processes and confirmed that the country was prepared to support an agreement between Belgrade and Pristina that will reflect harmony and will not have any negative consequences in the region, particularly in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Zvizdić's message is that Bosnia and Herzegovina is not a source nor a threat of any form of terrorism in the region or the EU and that it remains dedicated to constructive regional processes like the Berlin Process.

More news about the border between Croatia and Bosnia can be found in the Politics section.

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