Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Croatia Discusses Illegal Migration with Albania and Montenegro

ZAGREB, January 23, 2019 - Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović met with his Albanian and Montenegrin counterparts, Sander Lleshaj and Mevludin Nuhodžić, in Zagreb on Tuesday, discussing cooperation in preventing illegal migration.

Speaking to the press after the meeting, Božinović said that they had agreed on "more or less everything" and that now they needed to "implement what will raise our cooperation to a higher level and increase our resilience to challenges."

The meeting was the continuation of dialogue that was stepped up last year, particularly about migration which has intensified on the Eastern Mediterranean or Western Balkans route since the end of 2017.

Božinović said that Croatia, as an EU member, had also stepped up dialogue with European institutions to draw attention to the importance of the southeast of Europe when it came to illegal migration.

Until last year, European institutions had mostly been focused on the Central Mediterranean migration route towards Italy and the Western Mediterranean route towards Spain, Božinović said, adding that they had realised then that they should also concentrate on the Western Balkans as the only land route and its potential to be used by the largest number of migrants.

The three ministers exchanged information on migration, saying that all three countries had recorded increases in the number of illegal migrants. In Croatia, their number is nearly 70 percent higher than in 2017. Lleshaj said that Albania had recorded six times more migrants than in 2017, and Nuhodžić said that Montenegro had also recorded an increase.

"Albania and Montenegro are very important to us because the illegal migrants who reach these countries soon turn up on the Croatian border, either with Serbia or more often and in greater numbers on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina," Božinović said.

Last year Croatia recorded 619 cases of human trafficking, an increase of 71 percent over 2017.

Božinović said that they also discussed the change in the structure of migrants, adding that most of the migrants who had reached the three countries came from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and Iraq. He said this meant that in most cases these people could not be described as refugees because they were mostly economic migrants trying to reach their destinations in Western Europe.

"On the one hand this is legitimate, but on the other, given the policy of the EU which wants to stop illegal migration and which is increasingly investing in the protection of its external borders, it's something that we have to cope with," Božinović said. "These are the issues we will have to cope with in the decades to come. No country can deal with this alone and that's why cooperation is needed on a regional and wider level, either European or global," he added.

Božinović said that the countries of Southeastern Europe, which are candidates for EU membership, should not be ignored in discussions on these issues. He said that some of the initiatives had produced concrete results, adding that Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro had for the first time been granted funding from the EU to increase their border control capacity.

Recalling that earlier this month the European Commission had approved a 100-million-euro fund for operational cooperation in fighting human smuggling, Božinović said that one of the criteria for receiving funding was a joint application by member states and third countries.

The three ministers also discussed the possibility of Albania and Montenegro using funding from pre-accession funds.

Lleshaj said it was most important to concentrate on the scale of illegal migration in Albania to reduce the flow of migrants to the EU. "We know that if we close the land border the flow will be diverted across the sea border. If we take all these facts into account, we are ready to strengthen trilateral cooperation. With Croatia's mentorship, we could have better access to EU funding," the Albanian minister said.

Nuhodžić said that migration challenges continued to have a global dimension and that no country could effectively combat illegal migration without cooperating with other countries. "All three countries, being NATO members, share security risks and have an obligation to coordinate their activities in tackling these challenges," the Montenegrin interior minister said.

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

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Foreign Minister Attends Meeting of US-Adriatic Charter Allies

ZAGREB, December 18, 2018 - Croatian Foreign Minister Marija Pejčinović Burić attended in Podgorica on Monday and Tuesday a meeting of the US-Adriatic Charter (A5), an initiative for Euro-Atlantic cooperation in Southeast Europe, which discussed security challenges and future cooperation in the region, the ministry said in a press release on Tuesday.

The meeting was attended by ministers from the A5 member states (Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, and the US) and observers (Kosovo, Slovenia, and Serbia).

Participants confirmed the significance of the US-Adriatic Charter as a framework for dialogue and cooperation which results in long term political stabilisation and stronger security in the region, the ministry said.

The ministers discussed cooperation between the A5 member states in NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan and ways to enhance cooperation in the period ahead.

In her address, Pejčinović Burić underlined the importance of NATO's open door policy, saying Croatia supports the Euro-Atlantic integration of Southeast European countries as a way to achieve long-term stability and security. She said EU enlargement would be one of Croatia's priorities during its presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2020.

Speaking of current global and regional security challenges such as terrorism, hybrid threats and irregular migration, she said A5 represented an added value to NATO and EU efforts to respond to those challenges.

Participants adopted a joint declaration on this year's achievements and goals for the period ahead. The conference marked the end of Montenegro's A5 presidency this year. Albania will preside in 2019.

While in Montenegro, Pejčinović Burić met with representatives of local Croats. The meeting underlined the importance of their presence in the political and public spheres as well as of nurturing the Croatian identity, the ministry said, adding that the minister underlined that support to Croats outside Croatia was an important government priority.

More news on the regional cooperation can be found in our Politics section.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Montenegro Refuses to Hand Over Controversial Ship

ZAGREB, August 21, 2018 - Montenegro is open to all its allies using the training ship "Jadran" but the vessel will stay in Montenegro and sail under its flag, it was said at a ceremony in the coastal town of Tivat on Monday which marked the 85th anniversary of the Montenegrin Navy's most valuable and most beautiful ship.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Disputed Sailing Ship Causing Tensions Between Croatia and Montenegro

The issue of an allegedly stolen sailing ship has remained unsolved for almost 30 years.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Montenegro Defends Participation in Operation Storm Celebrations

ZAGREB, August 7, 2018 - Montenegro is turned to a secure European future and resolutely walking in step with developed democracies, free of the ballast of the past, Podgorica said on Tuesday in response to accusations from the pro-Serbian opposition that it was scandalous and disgraceful that Montenegro's military envoy attended the anniversary celebration of Croatia's Operation Storm.

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Croatia and Montenegro Cooperating on Migration and Border Protection

ZAGREB, May 31, 2018 - Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović met with his Montenegrin counterpart Mevludin Nuhodžić on Wednesday, and in a joint statement they underscored the very good cooperation between their respective ministries and police forces on a daily operational basis.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Croatia’s Neighbour Gets Pro-EU Leader

ZAGREB, May 20, 2018 - Milo Đukanović was officially sworn in on Sunday as Montenegrin president and stressed that, instead of becoming Serbia's province, Montenegro had become economically the most developed country in western Balkans.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Croatia's Neighbours Advance towards EU

ZAGREB, April 17, 2018 - The European Commission on Tuesday issued its latest annual report on the progress of negotiations with the six Western Balkan countries and Turkey towards membership of the bloc.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Croatian President Congratulates Newly-Elected Montenegrin Leader

ZAGREB, April 16, 2018 - Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović has congratulated Milo Đukanović on being elected President of Montenegro, pledging Croatia's support to Montenegro on its path to European Union membership, the President's Office said in a statement on Monday.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

St. Tryphon Celebration Nominated for UNESCO List

ZAGREB, March 31, 2018 - The Croatian Culture Ministry has submitted the celebration of Saint Tryphon and the Kolo Svetog Tripuna tradition of Croats from the Bay of Kotor for inclusion on UNESCO's protection list, the Croatian Foreign Ministry said in a press release on Friday, adding that they were registered as Croatia's cultural heritage and were part of Croatia's intangible heritage.

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