The possible deployment of police officers or soldiers from the Visegrad Group (V4) countries along Hungary’s borders should not be viewed as an act of animosity towards Croatia but as protection of the Schengen area border and application of Schengen principles which Croatia, as a country aspiring to join that area of passport-free travel, is not applying, President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said while answering reporters’ questions at the end of a two-day V4 summit in Balatonfured, Hungary, which she attended as a special guest.
“This should not be viewed as an act of animosity towards Croatia or anyone else, but as protection of the Schengen borders and application of Schengen principles which Croatia, as a country aspiring to join the Schengen area, is not applying and it has performed rather poorly in the current crisis in terms of controlling the passage of migrants,” said Grabar-Kitarovic.
“Deployment of police officers (from other Visegrad Group countries) along the Hungarian border is aimed exactly at protecting Hungary’s Schengen border – this is not only about its border with Croatia – because border crossing should simply be controlled,” said the Croatian president.
She said that the green border should be under control and border crossings remain open and be the only place where the border may be crossed.
Croatia is not controlling its border, she said, adding that the border should be controlled and that Croatian military experts had told her that both technical and other conditions existed for much stricter border control and for redirecting people trying to enter the country via the green border to legal border crossings.
Grabar-Kitarovic said that she did not know when Hungary’s green border would be closed because the matter had not been discussed either at the summit or at her talks with Hungarian officials.
“I assume that it will depend also on conditions under which migrants will be accepted in the EU, namely, on the reaction of European countries that are migrants’ final destination because it is obvious that neither Hungary nor Croatia are that,” she said.
She underlined the importance of national security. “One should strictly control who passes the border, we must not make it possible for potential terrorists, people smugglers, drug smugglers… who can pose a threat to our societies, to enter together with migrants and refugees.”
She called for protecting the Greek-Turkish border as the EU’s external border and the Schengen border, as well as for dividing responsibility for the migrant crisis globally.
Asked if she had discussed the relationship between the INA and MOL oil companies at her talks with Hungarian officials, she said that the issue had only been mentioned briefly.
“That issue is not within my jurisdiction so we did not discuss how to solve it; I only expressed hope that it would not negatively mark Hungarian-Croatian relations and that after (Croatian) elections, whichever government comes to power, it will be solved quickly so that neither country feels financially harmed or hurt.” (Hina