Sunday, 25 August 2019

Joint European Solution Best Response to Issue of Irregular Migrants

ZAGREB, August 25, 2019 - Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Saturday that a joint European solution was the best response to the issue of illegal migrants, after Slovenia decided to continue putting up fencing along its border with Croatia.

Asked by the press about Slovenia's decision on setting up an additional 4-kilometre fence in a bid to counter a rise in illegal border crossings, Božinović said that obviously countries differently responded to the influx of irregular migrants, and the best way would be to act jointly in compliance with the European solution.

Božinović said that Croatia's well-trained and well-equipped law enforcement officers can cope with the pressure of illegal border crossings. What the Slovenians are doing, is their own decision, he added.

In an effort to protect itself from an influx of migrants Slovenia has begun to erect additional fencing along the border with Croatia in those sections where migrant entries have increased. Recently Slovenia media have reported that an additional 4 kilometres of panel fencing will be erected over the next few weeks due to the increased number of illegal crossings, adding that the areas along the Kupa river between Vinica and Žunica will then be thus entirely protected.

There are currently 179 kilometres of "temporary technical barriers," along the border with Croatia, 116 kilometres of which is barbed wire fencing and 63 kilometres of panel fencing.

Slovenia's authorities said a few days ago that as many as 1,740 crossings of illegal migrants had been registered in July alone, which is record high monthly number since the migrations tide in 2015-2016.

A majority of those irregular migrants have come from Pakistan, Algeria and Afghanistan.

In the first seven months, the Slovenian police registered 7,415 arrivals of irregular migrants, and they conducted readmission for 4908 migrants to neighbouring countries. Also, 416 illegal migrants were readmitted to Slovenia.

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

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Slovenia Putting up More Fencing Along Border with Croatia

ZAGREB, August 22, 2019 - In an effort to protect itself from an influx of migrants Slovenia has begun to erect additional fencing along the border with Croatia in those sections where migrant entries have increased, Slovenia media reported on Thursday.

Quoting its sources, POP-TV on Wednesday evening reported that an additional 4 kilometres of panel fencing would be erected over the next few weeks due to the increased number of illegal crossings, adding that the areas along the Kupa river between Vinica and Zunica would then be entirely protected.

The Interior Ministry has said that additional technical barriers are being put up in those areas where it is essential to prevent illegal migrants.

"Where the barriers will be put up exactly and to what extent will be decided based on concrete evaluations and recommendations by the police," the ministry said in a statement to the press.

Slovenia first put up technical barriers to stop migrants during the height of the migrant crisis in 2015 to 2016 and continued to erect an additional 40 kilometres during the summer months of this year.

There are currently 179 kilometres of "temporary technical barriers," along the border with Croatia, 116 kilometres of which is barbed wire fencing and 63 kilometres of panel fencing, the ministry confirmed.

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

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Seventh Group of Syrian Migrants from Turkey Arrives in Croatia

ZAGREB, August 22, 2019 - A seventh group of Syrian migrants from Turkey arrived in Zagreb on Wednesday as part of the European resettlement programme, the Interior Ministry has reported.

Eight families or 41 Syrian nationals, including 24 minors arrived on Wednesday while another two families or 7 people of whom 3 are minors are expected to arrive at the end of August.

With the latest group of migrants, Croatia will have resettled a total of 250 Syrian nationals and will have met its obligations defined in government decisions adopted in 2915 and 2017.

The refugees will spend the next few weeks in the migrant reception centre in Kutina while approval for international protection is processed.

They will have an opportunity to attend integration activities which include informing them of their rights and obligations as well as learning about the customs and culture in Croatia and attending Croatian language classes.

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

Monday, 19 August 2019

Bosnian Police Have Stopped 7,650 Illegal Migrants Heading to Croatia

ZAGREB, August 19, 2019 - Since the start of this year until mid-August, Bosnian police have prevented more than 7,000 illegal migrants from entering the country. However, despite all their efforts a lot of migrants have managed to cross the border which is the result of the chronic shortage of police personnel to control the border, Bosnia and Herzegovina's border police chief Zoran Galić said on Monday as carried by the Banja Luka-based Nezavisne Novine daily.

Precise data indicates that by 12 August, 7,650 illegal migrants were prevented from entering the country however thousands have managed to do so.

"The majority of illegal migrants come from Pakistan, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan," Galić said. Continuous pressure exists from the direction of Serbia and Montenegro toward the eastern and northeastern sections of Bosnia and Herzegovina's border. At the same time the situation is quite complex on the border leading out of Bosnia and Herzegovina, particularly in the Krajina region, added Galić.

He assessed that a cooperation agreement between border police in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia was being implemented well. He also added that no incidents had been recorded on the border between the two countries when 18 injured migrants were recently discovered, who claimed that Croatian police had used force to push them back into Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Galić said that the problems within Bosnia and Herzegovina could be resolved and that the country's border police required urgent financial support to procure sophisticated special equipment and in personnel from other police units in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He explained that the border police are short of 375 officers for regular tasks, however, in order to efficiently protect the borders with Serbia and Montenegro, which stretch for 600 kilometres, it needs at least an additional 1,000 police officers.

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

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Slovenian Paramilitary Camp Set up Near Border with Croatia

ZAGREB, August 10, 2019 - The Štajerska Guard, known as an anti-migrant paramilitary group in Slovenia led by a far-right politician, Andrej Šiško, has set up a camp near the town of Podčetrtak some 20 kilometres of the Slovenia-Croatia border, the Zagreb-based Jutarnji List daily reported on Saturday.

The photographs of about 30 uniformed men, some of whom are masked, and of tents and weapons' replicas, which were published by the Ljubljana-based Delo newspaper, have caused alarm among Slovenian politicians and in the local society.

The Croatian newspaper carries a statement of a Slovenian police official who has said that forming such camps is unacceptable. On the other hand, the Slovenian Prime Minister Marijan Šarec has reassured the public by saying that Slovenia is a safe country.

Šiško was quoted as saying that this was not a paramilitary unit, insisting that those men are just camping and exercising in the rural area of Kozja outside the town of Podčetrtak.

The camp has been organised on private grounds and the local police authorities have granted Šiško's request to hold a gathering there.

The Štajerska Guard, which was registered as an organisation in 2017, is believed to have over 100 members.

Upon the establishment of the guard Šiško said that he would not allow the German scenario to happen in Slovenia, alluding to the influx of immigrants.

The Croatia daily says that upon such statements and the organisation of the guard Šiško had been sentenced to eight months and had served six after which he was released.

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

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Croatian Police Say No Force Used against 18 Migrants

ZAGREB, August 8, 2019 - The Croatian Ministry of the Interior said on Wednesday that 18 migrants moving in separate groups were found in the area of Buhača near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina as they were attempting to cross the border into Croatia, and that Croatian police prevented them from doing so without using force.

"According to information collected so far, during the deterrence procedure, police officers did not use means of coercion against the persons caught while trying to illegally cross the state border. There were no visible injuries on the persons concerned nor did any of them seek medical assistance and the border police of Bosnia and Herzegovina did not report any alleged injuries to us either," said the ministry.

The ministry said the allegations of injuries and use of force would be checked as in all previous cases.

Quoting hospital and police sources, Bosnian media said earlier in the day that 18 illegal migrants were injured under as yet unclear circumstances in the area of Velika Kladuša and that prosecutorial authorities had launched an investigation into the case.

Bosnian border police spokeswoman Sanela Dujković confirmed that border police found the 18 injured migrants in the area close to the border with Croatia but she could not say what exactly had happened.

The spokesman for the police of the northwestern Bosnian Una-Sana Canton, Ale Šiljdedić, said that cantonal police did not intervene in the case but were informed that a larger group of migrants had sought medical assistance in a clinic in Velika Kladuša.

Officials at the Velika Kladuša clinic confirmed having admitted six migrants with serious injuries, saying the other 12 had light injuries.

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

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Bosnian Media Claim Croatian Police Beat up 18 Migrants, Forced Them Back

ZAGREB, August 7, 2019 - The group of migrants discovered by Bosnia and Herzegovina police in the area of the northwestern town of Velika Kladuša in the night between Tuesday and Wednesday are victims of brutality by the Croatian border police who caught them as they were trying to illegally cross the border into Croatia, beat them up and returned them forcibly to Bosnia and Herzegovina, local media reported on Wednesday without providing any evidence or official statements for their claims.

Quoting unnamed sources, the Klix web portal claims that the migrants were illegally transferred back to Bosnia and Herzegovina by members of Croatian border police forces, who left after being spotted by the Bosnian border police.

"This is the first concrete case that confirms allegations by Bosnia and Herzegovina officials about the neighbouring country violating Bosnia and Herzegovina's sovereignty with incursions of its police into the territory under Bosnia and Herzegovina's control," the portal reported.

The coordinator for assistance to migrants in Velika Kladuša, Jasmin Čehić, earlier told the Oslobodjenje daily that the migrants were given medical assistance in the local clinic where they had been brought by the border police.

A total of 18 migrants were admitted to the clinic and six of them had serious injuries, mostly bone fractures, while the others had light injuries.

"They said that they had already crossed over to Croatia at an unknown part of the border, when they were discovered by Croatian police who allegedly beat them up, took their money and mobile phones and then transferred them back to Bosnia and Herzegovina's territory," Čehić said.

Bosnian border police have not confirmed any of the allegations, saying that they were still gathering information to help establish what exactly had happened with the migrants found near Velika Kladuša.

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

Friday, 2 August 2019

Komšić Says Croatian Police Entering Bosnian Territory

ZAGREB, August 1, 2019 - Chairman of the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Željko Komšić on Thursday added fuel to the verbal war with Croatian officials, claiming that they were "meddling and lying", reiterating once again that Croatia's police officers were illegally entering Bosnia and Herzegovina's territory.

Commenting on a statement by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who said that he was sorry about the "exaggerated reactions" by officials in Bosnia and Herzegovina and messages to President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Komšić told the Klix web portal that statements like that did not interest him and that he expects Croatian authorities to, above all, ensure that their police officers withdraw from territory in Bosnia and Herzegovina who are allegedly entering the country to push back illegal migrants.

"That is unacceptable undermining of Bosnia and Herzegovina's territorial integrity and sovereignty. Instead of asking for an apology due to the lies their officials have been caught in, they should order that armed police withdraw from the border area," Komšić said.

"The tensions are just a reaction to the conduct of senior Croatian officials and their meddling in Bosnia and Herzegovina's internal affairs. We call for resolving at the highest level all outstanding issues between two neighbouring and friendly countries," Komšić said.

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

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Bosnian Security Minister Accuses Croatian Police of Pushbacks of Migrants

ZAGREB, August 1, 2019 - Bosnia and Herzegovina's Security Minister Dragan Mektić has again accused Croatian police of forcibly returning illegal migrants to Bosnia and Herzegovina and violating the country's territorial integrity.

"We have the information to prove this, that they enter our territory armed, and footage showing what they do to migrants who cross into Croatia from Bosnia and Herzegovina, they beat them, take away their money and mobile phones, and return them to us," Mektić told the Bosnian Faktor news website on Thursday.

Mektić said that his ministry does not have the authority to respond because this is a foreign policy matter, adding that all information available has been referred to the country's presidency from which they expect a reaction.

"Something has to be done, there has to be a response. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also been notified that Croatian police enter Bosnia and Herzegovina armed, and they, too, must respond and protect the integrity and sovereignty of Bosnia and Herzegovina," Mektić said.

The Croat chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Presidency, Željko Komšić, raised this issue at a meeting with Croatia's Ambassador Ivan Sabolić on Wednesday.

Suhret Fazlić, the mayor of Bihac, the town with the largest concentration of illegal migrants seeking to reach western Europe, made similar accusations in a statement carried by the Zagreb-based Jutarnji List daily earlier this week.

Fazlić said that all migrants caught in Croatia are pushed back across the border near Bihac regardless of whether they came from Serbia or Bosnia and Herzegovina.

"Croatian police, armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles, cross the border one kilometre deep into our territory. When I tell them that it is against the law, they just shrug and say they are acting under orders. You can't justify such actions with deterrence," the mayor said.

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

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Interior Minister: Talks Yet to Be Held on Taking in Migrants

ZAGREB, July 23, 2019 - Interior Minister Davor Božinović on Tuesday commented on information that after Croatia takes over the chairmanship of the Council of the EU next year, it could start to receive migrants directly from ships in the Mediterranean, saying that there has been no agreement in that regard and that talks are yet to be held on that matter.

The Večernji List daily on Tuesday reported that Croatia has not received any migrants from ships in the Mediterranean and that it will most likely have to consider the fact that other member states that chaired the EU, like Bulgaria, Romania and Finland, took in migrants directly from ships in the Mediterranean. This is a symbolic gesture of taking in one or two migrants and not from every ship.

"You have information that no one else in the EU has, in particular those people who talked. No agreement exists, talks exist," Božinović said responding to reporters.

He recalled that from the first day, Croatia had been expressing its willingness to respect Europe's principle of solidarity, which he said had provided for a billion kuna investment in protecting Croatia's border. He mentioned that negotiations were held on an additional 20 million euro to technically equip Croatia's border.

Božinović believes that the EU will find a balanced solution to the migrant issue, underlining that no one was putting pressure on Croatia nor could they.

He also added that Croatia had not committed to anything and if it contributed in that regard, it would be a symbolic gesture.

Božinović believes that Croatia is prepared to enter the Schengen Area and said communication with the European Commission is in line with that assessment. "Of the eight chapters that we had to comply with in the evaluation, seven have already been closed, the eighth is nearing completion, and Schengen evaluators visited this section of the Croatian border," he said.

Božinović claimed that "there is a deep respect and gratitude in the European Commission and EU toward the Croatian police for everything they are doing."

Asked whether he was worried about claims of inhumane conduct by Croatia's police toward migrants, made by an unnamed police officer in an anonymous letter to Human Rights Ombudswoman Lora Vidović, Božinović said that an investigation was immediately started to examine the claims, but added that he was concerned that the letter was leaked to the public.

He underscored that the ministry conducted between 300 and 500 disciplinary procedures annually which result in various penalties against police officers, ranging from the mildest to some officers being suspended.

Commenting on the situation in Vukovar following a Constitutional Court decision that the rights of the Serb minority in that city have to be improved and the reaction by the city authorities, Božinović claimed that the government had shown its openness to resolve all issues that might burden relations in Croatia. "We are doing that with all interested parties through dialogue," he said.

"The messages coming from Vukovar over the past few days have been encouraging but it is first and foremost necessary to hear the people who live there and their representatives in the City Assembly who know best at what pace they can achieve or improve the standard that we all are aspire to," Božinović underscored.

The government will continue, as it has until now, to respect the Constitutional Court's decisions and a solution will be reached through dialogue, for which many sides have shown interest and readiness, said Božinović.

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

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