Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Božinović Says EU Should Prevent Mass Migration From Afghanistan

ZAGREB, 31 Aug, 2021 - The European Union should adopt a common position on preventing large migrant waves from Afghanistan, which does not exclude humanitarian aid to vulnerable groups in that country, Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović said in Brussels on Tuesday.

"I hope we will take a common position that would place emphasis on the fact that ultimately our goal is to prevent massive, large migrant waves. Croatia certainly holds that position," Božinović told reporters ahead of an extraordinary meeting of European home affairs ministers on Afghanistan.

"Of course, that doesn't exclude humanitarian aid to vulnerable groups, women, girls, children and those who worked for European institutions in Afghanistan," Božinović added.

EU home affairs ministers will discuss the situation in that country, which is again under the Taliban rule, and the possible consequences for the EU.

European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas stressed that the EU should use the Afghanistan crisis to finally agree on a common migration and asylum policy based on the Commission's proposals.

Now is the time for a political agreement on the migration pact, Schinas said upon arriving at the meeting.

The ministers are expected to issue a joint statement in which they will express determination to prevent illegal migrant waves and uncontrolled arrival of migrants from Afghanistan to the Union's external borders in order to prevent a recurrence of the 2015 migrant crisis.

For daily news on Croatia, CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

13 Persons Who Carried Inappropriate Banner in Split Suburb Identified

ZAGREB, April 14, 2020 - Charges have been pressed against four persons for attacking journalists in Split on Sunday, and 13 persons who carried an inappropriate banner have been identified, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said in an interview with the public broadcaster HRT on Monday evening.

A female journalist and a camerawoman were attacked outside a parish church in the Sirobuja suburb of Split on Sunday where a Mass was held despite the ban on public gatherings over the coronavirus epidemic. Criminal charges have been brought against three persons for using violence against persons performing a public duty, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years, while one person faces misdemeanour charges for disturbing the peace.

Police have also identified 13 persons, including a minor, who subsequently gathered outside the church and displayed unacceptable behaviour and insignia, Božinović said. Two of them will be prosecuted under the Public Order Act, one under the Explosive Substances Act for setting off a flare, while the rest will be reported to the State Inspectorate for violating the measures imposed by the national civil protection authority as part of efforts to curb the coronavirus epidemic.

"There will be no concessions made, especially when it comes to officials and journalists, who are actually one of the most important links in the chain of defence against the coronavirus. Without them everything that the civil protection authority says would not reach the citizens, and we can see that a vast majority of citizens adhere to these measures to protect themselves and others," the minister said.

Asked about a possible relaxation of the emergency measures, Božinović said that there were still a lot of unknowns about this novel virus and that it was difficult to predict when the measures would be eased. He said that the number of infections would need to fall for five to seven days, while this number in Croatia was still fluctuating. He said that it was not yet time to lift the restrictions.

"We discuss this every day, and this is not an arbitrary decision of the government and the civil protection authority. If we all make our contribution and behave in accordance with the epidemiological measures, we will sooner reach a point where it will be possible to relax some of the measures," Božinović said.

He said that 23 police officers were currently infected with the virus, 210 had completed self-isolation and 123 were still in self-isolation.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Restricting Human Rights is Out of the Question, Says Božinović

ZAGREB, March 29, 2020 - Restricting human rights is out of the question, people are increasingly aware that the current situation is an emergency and extreme situation, which is why measures by the national civil protection authority are extreme, Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said on Sunday.

"The institutions of this state, the government and the parliament, are functioning. The national civil protection authority is adopting decisions in line with epidemiologists' recommendations and they have to be implemented at the level of local civil protection authorities," Božinović, who heads the national civil protection team, said when asked to comment on President Zoran Milanović's statement that decisions restricting citizens' rights had to be adopted by a two-thirds majority.

Božinović said that during the current crisis, last Sunday's earthquake in Zagreb was a critical moment, when a large number of citizens went out and some left Zagreb, mostly for the coast, where medical capacity in the wintertime is not as good as in the rest of the year.

He explained that that was the reason why the authority had introduced a ban on leaving one's place of residence.

Božinović confirmed that a prison guard in Split had been diagnosed with COVID-19, that some of the people who had been in contact with him were in self-isolation and that the situation in Split was under control.

He said that 99 police officers were currently in self-isolation, and that four police officers were infected. Self-isolation measures have been lifted for 25 police officers.

More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 13 March 2020

Božinović: EU Must Show It Has Answers to Citizens' Concerns

ZAGREB, March 13, 2020 - The European Union must show its citizens that it has answers to their concerns, Croatian Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović said ahead of a regular meeting of EU ministers of the interior in Brussels on Friday.

The meeting is expected to discuss assistance to Greece in coping with the migrant wave from Turkey and ways of strengthening cooperation in civil protection to stop the spreading of the novel coronavirus.

"This is a regular meeting in extraordinary circumstances. As the county chairing the Council of the EU, we have to demonstrate leadership because citizens across the EU want to see Europe having answers to their concerns," Božinović said ahead of the meeting.

Only a few ministers arrived in Brussels for the meeting while other countries were represented either by state secretaries or ambassadors to the EU.

The meeting is taking place at a time when a number of EU countries have closed their borders, schools, restaurants and shops in an attempt to stop or slow down the spreading of the coronavirus.

Božinović underlined the need for decisions in the EU to be adopted in a "more uniform way", noting that that would enhance citizens' trust.

Asked if Croatia was prepared to take in unaccompanied migrant children currently staying on Greek islands, Božinović said that the matter had been discussed, that there was a willingness to do so, but that the matter should also be considered in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johannson recently visited Greece and she will inform the ministers about the result of her visit, he said.

EU ministers of the interior held an extraordinary meeting in Brussels two weeks ago at which they expressed support for Greece and concluded that illegal crossings of the border into EU territory would not be tolerated after Turkey opened its borders to migrants.

Today's meeting will discuss Germany's proposal to take in 1,600 unaccompanied migrant children from Greek islands, which has been supported by several member-countries.

More news about Croatia and the EU can be found in the Politics section.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Croatian Police to Help Guard Greek-Turkish Land Border

ZAGREB, March 11, 2020 - Croatian police will be deployed at the Greek-Turkish border as of Wednesday as part of an operation conducted by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, known as Frontex, the Ministry of the Interior said in a statement on Tuesday.

Four Croatian police officers were sent to Greece on Tuesday to help guard the Greek-Turkish land border as part of Frontex's Rapid Border Intervention 2020 mission.

The operation is being launched on Greece's request and in accordance with the European Border and Coast Guard regulation. It starts on 11 March and ends on 6 May this year, and will involve a total of 100 police officers from EU member states.

The Croatian police will stay in Greece until 8 April when they will be replaced by another contingent who will stay in the country until the end of the operation in May. There is a possibility of the operation being extended and the contingent enlarged, the statement said.

Greece is facing an influx of migrants from Turkey after Ankara announced on 29 February that it was opening its borders towards the European Union. Turkey has taken in nearly four million people displaced by the Syrian war.

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

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Croatia Prepared for New Migrant Wave, Says Interior Minister

ZAGREB, March 1, 2020 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Saturday Croatia was prepared for a potential new migrant wave and that for now there was no increase in arrivals on the Western Balkan route.

"For several years now, Croatia has had a plan for the situation we are faced with and for a situation we could be faced with," he told reporters, adding that "at this moment there are no visible increases on the route called Eastern Mediterranean or Western Balkan" and that "there's no worry" about Croatia's preparedness.

Croatian police efficaciously protect the border, Božinović said, adding that "perhaps, unlike in some other countries, such situations are no surprise for us because we are constantly fully operational."

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said today that Turkey had opened its borders and that 18,000 migrants were en route to Europe.

The EU relied on Turkey to stop the migrant flow after more than a million people arrived in Europe from the Middle East in 2015.

Božinović said he was in contact with European institutions and that the EU was acting in two directions.

"On the one hand, a diplomatic effort is being made to deescalate the situation in Idlib, while on the other hand humanitarian action is being taken with the approval of €60 million... to ensure accommodation, food and medical care for Syrians" in that Syrian province, he said.

Aid envisaged under the EU-Turkey agreement continues, he added.

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

Friday, 14 February 2020

Croatian and Bosnian Police to Boost Cooperation in Combating Illegal Migration

ZAGREB, February 14, 2020 - The Croatian Ministry of the Interior and police agencies from Bosnia and Herzegovina agreed at a meeting in Sarajevo on Thursday to strengthen cooperation in combating illegal migration, including better coordination and data exchange, according to a statement issued after the meeting.

"Our task is to improve cooperation in all our areas of activity on the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially after a recent meeting between the Croatian minister of the interior and the security minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This primarily relates to improving the readmission system and joint patrols, without the intention of Bosnia and Herzegovina becoming a hotspot for illegal migrants," the Croatian deputy chief of police, Jozo Šuker, said.

He asked the Bosnian partners for all the necessary assistance in investigating allegations of human rights violations and unlawful treatment of migrants by Croatian border police.

Bosnian border police chief Zoran Galić said that new models of cooperation were needed in addressing the growing migratory pressure on the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina and its neighbours.

He said that last year Bosnian border police had stopped 13,251 people from entering the country illegally, but added that the police could no longer cope with the growing pressure from migrants, all the more so because one police officer guards 25 kilometres of the border.

"That's why we are doing all we can and are setting new models of cooperation to act as effectively as possible in dealing with illegal migration," Galić said.

Slobodan Ujić, the head of the Service for Foreigners' Affairs, said that Bosnia and Herzegovina honoured the readmission agreement with Croatia.

"More than 85 percent of applications sent by Croatia to Bosnia and Herzegovina have been granted," Ujić said, adding that the summary readmission procedure with Croatia was well functioning and that they were planning to use this model in cooperation with Serbia and Montenegro.

Earlier on Thursday, the government in Zagreb decided to donate police equipment to Bosnia and Herzegovina following requests by the country's authorities for assistance in tackling growing cross-border crime. Croatia will donate five thermal vision cameras and 198 sets of equipment.

Later on Thursday, Bosnia's Security Minister Fahrudin Radončić thanked Croatia for the donation, saying that it would help make the Bosnian police agencies more efficient.

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

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Croatia Far from Goal to Have Fewer Than 213 Road Fatalities This Year

ZAGREB, February 11, 2020 - There were 297 road fatalities in Croatia in 2020, the fewest in the past 60 years, but the country is still far from the goal of having fewer than 213 road fatalities annually by the end of this year, a conference on road traffic safety heard on Monday.

The conference on the 2011-20 national road traffic safety programme was organised by the Zagreb Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences and the Interior Ministry.

Speaking to the press afterwards, Minister Davor Božinović said the results were visible as the best steps forward in all segments over the past 60 years were made in 2019.

He underlined the importance of prevention from the youngest age. Speaking of problems in road traffic safety, he mentioned repeat offenders, saying penalties were much stricter under the new Road Traffic Safety Act, as well as old cars, as a large number of crashes are caused by vehicles that are ten or 15 years old, and the condition of roads themselves.

Josip Mataija, head of the Road Traffic Safety Service, said there were 426 traffic-related deaths in 2010 and 297 last year.

He said the goal of having fewer than 213 by the end of this year could be achieved thanks to stricter penalties as well as focus on risk groups such as young and elderly drivers, bicyclists and motorcyclists. He said over 4,200 repeat offenders were caught last year.

Mataija said police would also watch out for speeding, drunk driving, use of mobile phones while driving and not wearing a seat belt.

Asked about the point of stricter penalties if courts assessed offences differently, he said the courts had upheld more than 300 prison sentences, including for one driver who was sentenced to 120 days behind bars.

Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences professor Željko Marušić said it would be tough to have less than 213 traffic fatalities by the end of this year. He pushed for amending the strategy, making the punishment of drivers a certainty, and lower taxes on safe cars.

More news about driving in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Parliamentary Committee to Inspect Police Treatment of Migrants

ZAGREB, February 6, 2020 - The parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs and National Security on Thursday adopted a report on the work of the Council for the Civilian Oversight of Security and Intelligence Agencies in 2019 and the Council's 2020 work programme, and decided to conduct direct oversight of the treatment of migrants by border police.

The Committee unanimously decided to conduct direct oversight of police work following complaints about the police treatment of migrants, Committee Chairman Ranko Ostojić (SDP) told the press after the Committee meeting.

He said that oversight would most likely include Committee members inspecting police work on the ground, after which the Committee would adopt conclusions.

As for the annual report on the work of the Council for the Civilian Oversight of Security and Intelligence Agencies, Ostojić expressed his satisfaction and said that none of the cases dealt with by the Council indicated any irregularities that would have required a special session of the Committee.

He said that the Council was not denied any information from the security and intelligence agencies and that their cooperation was good.

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

Monday, 3 February 2020

Bosnia Won't Become Parking Lot for Migrants, Says Minister in Zagreb

ZAGREB, February 3, 2020 - Bosnia and Herzegovina's Security Minister Fahrudin Radončić on Monday said in Zagreb that economic migration is not a humanitarian issue and that he would do everything so that Bosnia and Herzegovina does not become a parking lot for migrants.

"We have deliberately chosen Croatia for our first bilateral meeting to show that relations with Croatia are strategically important for us because we share more than one thousand kilometres of border," said Radončić who was recently appointed as the country's new Security Minister.

"Bosnia finds it exceptionally important that Croatian border is absolutely impenetrable for illegal migrants for security and other reasons," Radončić underscored.

"Not only will Croatia achieve its objectives with regard to entering the Schengen Area in that way, but it will also achieve a pragmatic position in that the route across Bosnia and Herzegovina will not be that attractive for migrants and they will bypass us," he explained.

Croatia's Interior Minister Davor Božinović agreed with his counterpart but added that it is not in anyone's interest for another or third route to exist.

"We need to come to an agreement at the EU level about the objective and intention with regard to economic migrations," Božinović added.

"Solidarity of everyone in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region is necessary. If the EU and we do not come to an agreement, there will be problems. I will do everything for Bosnia and Herzegovina to not become a parking lot for migrants," Radončić underlined and called on Brussels to not treat the migrant crisis merely as a humanitarian issue but one of security too.

He added that 93% of EU support for Bosnia and Herzegovina is used for humanitarian aid and only 7% is allocated for security issues.

Božinović said that he and his counterpart had agreed to stronger cooperation between border police while Radončić warned of the "alarming situation," in his country in that regard.

"Each border police officer patrols 25 kilometres of the border. In the past three years, there has not been one new police officer employed in the border police," Radončić stressed and added that the country urgently needs 400 police officers and in the long run 1,200.

Božinović said that today almost all security issues are transnational and that cross-border cooperation is essential.

He underlined that last year Croatia arrested a thousand smugglers and added that this is "one of the fastest growing forms of organised crime in these regions."

"We have already arrested 95 people since the beginning of the year. That is certainly one area where cooperation has to be additionally strengthened with the relevant services in Bosnia and Herzegovina and also elsewhere," Božinović added.

In the end, Radončić thanked Croatia for its support to Bosnia and Herzegovina and invited Božinović for a visit.

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

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