Ante Kotromanovic calls on Serbia for cooperation in dealing with refugee crisis


Croatian Defence Minister Ante Kotromanovic on Saturday called on Serbian officials for cooperation to organise the reception of migrants as humanely as possible.

“Since you’re doing this in an organised fashion, please do it in cooperation with us and send us those people where we think is the most humane for them,” Kotromanovic said at a press conference at the Opatovac refugee camp near the border with Serbia.

“You could hear sharp rhetoric in recent days. We all must hold our horses. I’ve talked to a Syrian family who had to pay 100 euros each to get here. As a defence minister, I say that we know that refugees are coming to the Croatian border in an organised fashion,” Kotromanovic said, calling on the Serbian authorities for cooperaiton. “Let’s be serious and make it easy for these people.”

He also called on Hungary for cooperation, saying that refugees were a problem for entire Europe.

Kotromanovic said that 3,277 refugees had entered Croatia on Saturday and about 5,000 had left the country. “It’s more peaceful than yesterday, and the worst situation was on the border at Strosinci. It’s hard to respond when you don’t have the necessary cooperation with the other side,” he said, adding that Croatia was in regular contact with Macedonia regarding the refugee crisis.

When asked if this meant that there were no contacts between Croatia and Serbia, Kotromanovic said that there were contacts and that Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic had spoken to his Serbian counterpart, “who promised that relations would be improved.”

“Everything is going well for now. The prime minister has spoken to the Austrian chancellor and Austria is not worried. Austrians are taking in refugees just like Germans. Hungarians are accepting them from us and everything is going well for now. We’ll see what happens if one day the Austrians say ‘no’, then the Germans will also have to say ‘no’ and it will become serious,” Kotromanovic said, adding that Croatia has plans for all possible scenarios. “It’s important to protect our interests and I would say that we have been doing it successfully so far.”

Kotromanovic confirmed that the refugees, several thousand of whom gathered at the Serbian-Croatian border near Strosinci on Saturday, were being taken by train to the border with Hungary.