Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party leader Tomislav Karamarko said in Brussels on Wednesday he was in favour of closing illegal border crossings and opening legal ones so that refugees arriving in Croatia could be registered.
“We all must be constructive now. I think that Europe must accept this as a common problem, we must behave like a single state, like a community of states which must resolve this problem. It is important to prevent illegal entries into the EU, and all legal border crossing points should be opened,” Karamarko said.
He was attending a meeting of the European People’s Party (EPP), of which the HDZ is a member, ahead of an extraordinary EU summit on the refugee crisis. He denied that he was calling for closing the border with Serbia.
“That’s a lie and manipulation by some media. I say once again, illegal entries should be stopped and legal border crossings opened. People should be channelled away from fields, rivers and streams towards official points of entry into Croatia and registered for their own sake. But we are unorganised and we did just the opposite. We closed the legal border crossings and basically left open all the illegal ones. Now trucks carrying goods can’t cross the border, which is damaging the economy, while at the same time thousands of people are crossing the border through fields,” the HDZ leader said.
Karamarko said that he was not in favour of putting up fences along the border. “Police patrols or troops or a combination of them will do. Finally, there can also be united European forces. Europe should protect itself by registering those people. We can’t put those people on buses in Tovarnik without knowing their names. We are sending them illegally to Hungary … that’s embarrassing. We’re doing everything the wrong way,” he added.
Karamarko declined to comment on President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic’s statement that German Chancellor Angela Merkel had caused chaos with her statements about the refugee crisis. “I can’t comment on that, I didn’t read it. The president has her own opinion. Don’t expect us to be robots and have the same rhetoric.”
Asked to comment on statements that the HDZ shared the views of Hungarian and Serbian Prime Ministers Viktor Orban and Aleksandar Vucic and Serbian Labour Minister Aleksandar Vulin, Karamarko said that those were just “gimmicks” for election campaign purposes. “All of a sudden our Socialists are on the same side as the Pope and Mrs Merkel. Our government is changing its rhetoric every day. On the first day migrants started arriving they were full of praise and at the end of the day they started frowning because 2,000 people had arrived and another 10,000 during the night. Right now 44,000 people have passed through Croatia.”