Tomislav Karamarko: Croatia must not become Europe’s humanitarian problem


The leader of the main opposition HDZ party, Tomislav Karamarko, has warned that building a refugee reception centre at Prevlaka, southern Croatia, could jeopardise tourism in Dalmatia and that Croatia “will have to say ‘stop’ at one moment” so that it does not become a European humanitarian problem.

Speaking in an interview with the Nova TV commercial broadcaster on Sunday evening, Karamarko said that his party would deal with the refugee crisis “as part of the EU mosaic” because the refugee crisis was not “only Croatia’s problem but a problem of the EU and the rest of the world.”

He said that Croatia was now dealing with the problem in a disorderly way, by opening illegal border crossings and closing the legal ones, and that many refugees remained unregistered.

He would not agree with the host’s position that the HDZ had changed its mind, being first in favour of and then against the closing of the border, reiterating that the party wanted legal border crossings to remain open.

“When we are saying that we want the parts of the border that are now not controlled to be under control, it means either increased police patrols or army deployment, which does not mean that the army should shoot at anyone,” he said.

“We have to say ‘stop’ at one point for the simple reason that we may become a European humanitarian problem. I have heard about preparations for building a reception centre at Prevlaka, that would be a disaster… with dozens of thousands of migrants accommodated in Dalmatia and on islands, what would happen with our tourism industry?,” said the HDZ leader.

He underlined the importance of the security aspect of the crisis, expressing doubts as to the registration of refugees and security checks.

“We have seen that it is being done sloppily.”

Asked why there had been no consensus among political parties on how to deal with the refugee crisis and why everything had turned into an argument, Karamarko said that Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and his government had not sought anyone’s opinion or consensus on that matter and first bragged about their humanness, only to turn into warriors against the first neighbour over the same people towards which they wanted to show their humanness.

Speaking about his party’s chances in the coming parliamentary elections, Karamarko said that the HDZ was in the lead in party rankings and was confident of its victory.

Asked when the HDZ’s economic platform would be made public and which measures would be implemented first, Karamarko said that the party’s platform had already been made public and that union leaders had been informed of it a few days ago. One of the HDZ’s first moves once it comes into power will be to deal with fundamental problems in the business sector and agriculture, he said.

“We do not have our own production, our small businesses have been destroyed. Agricultural production has been destroyed, and we will do our best to stimulate enterprise, agriculture, food production… At the same time, we will be working on rationalising and digitalising state administration, which is very important,” said Karamarko.