Croatian Deputy Prime Minister Milanka Opacic and Justice Minister Orsat Miljenic said on Tuesday that Croatia had accepted and provided for refugees and that it would continue to do so, but that the border crossing at Bajakovo would remain closed to some types of traffic until Serbia started to direct refugees to two border crossings with Hungary as well.
“We have closed a part of the border with Serbia to traffic because we want to send them a message that they cannot be unfair. They can send refugees directly through two border crossings with Hungary and they don’t need to send them only to Croatia,” Opacic told reporters when asked if closing the border was in fact a form of pressure on Serbia to be more fair and send a share of refugees to Hungary and not only to Croatia.
Opacic declined to comment on Serbian officials’ announcements regarding countermeasures, reiterating that so far Serbia had failed to show responsibility.
“They have sided with (Hungarian PM) Orban and I am happy that Croatia is among civilised countries that want to help refugees and about efforts by German Chancellor Angela Merkel,” she said.
“We have provided for refugees and we will provide for those arriving in Croatia, unlike those who have built fences. I fear their next step will be to bring in dogs, which is something we witnessed a long time ago,” Opacic said.
Asked if she agreed with President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic’s claim that Merkel “recently invited refugees to Germany and is now hitting the breaks by saying that Germany cannot receive all those economic migrants… creating chaos that now needs to be dealt with”, Opacic said she did not agree with Grabar-Kitarovic, stressing that the facts spoke differently.
“Chancellor Merkel has shown great responsibility, providing for a large number of refugees and she is continuing to provide for them. Some other European countries have created chaos, primarily Greece, which has let refugees from Turkey through,” Opacic said.
Minister Miljenic, too, said Serbia had been directing all refugees towards Croatia and that this was the reason why the Bajakovo border crossing was closed.
“If a country sends all the refugees exclusively to one border crossings while other crossings are opened as well, it is expected to distribute them equally. As long as Serbia behaves this way, we cannot allow it because of our own interests and the safety of those people, and the border will remain closed until this is resolved,” the minister said, adding that the problem had not been caused by Croatia but by Serbia.