Outgoing interior minister talks migration restrictions

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Caretaker Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic said on Thursday that Croatia would continue to allow passage for migrants as it had until now, although aside from name and nationality, they would also have to state if they wanted asylum in Austria or Germany.

Speaking at a press conference, he told “advocates of the wire fence” that aside from putting it up along the border with Serbia, they must not forget Croatia’s 1,000-km-long border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He said Austria had introduced a quota for the refugees who could seek asylum on its territory, while Germany had still not imposed restrictions for asylum seekers, so the transit of refugees would continue across Slovenia and Austria until Germany decided to limit the number of people it would grant asylum to.

Ostojic said that more and more countries were using the option of imposing restrictions, including Austria, despite a Brussels agreement that there should be no unilateral moves. “This creates a domino effect in which the same move is expected of Slovenia, and Croatia has notified the countries on the (migration) route, Serbia and Macedonia, which are doing the same.”

He said the domino effect was not being caused by Croatia but by those making certain moves and that this had repercussions on every country on the refugee route. “If Germany stops (receiving refugees), Croatia will do the same, naturally. We won’t let Croatia become a collection centre,” he said, adding that Croatia would “notify its neighbours that it can no longer accept migrants.”

Ostojic said problems would mount without a common EU policy because unilateral moves had resulted in what he had warned about. “New routes have opened towards Albania. From Albania (migrants) are likely to attempt to cross Montenegro towards Croatia, which we have prepared to prevent, or towards Italy with the help of smugglers. A route has also opened in Romania, and Hungary has announced that it will build a fence there. Some people are also using routes across Bulgaria and a large number of illegal arrivals have been recorded in Hungary.”

Ostojic said that that created a new problem which Europe must deal with, adding that an organised corridor and joint registration would be a complete solution.

He reiterated that on September 22, 2015 he said that everything was up to Germany and that Croatia would not become a hot spot, that it was a transit country, that migrants were coming from a Schengen Area country (Greece), and that the migrant crisis should be solved at the Greek-Turkish border. “Now leaders of our neighbouring countries are saying that and (HDZ officials) Karamarko and Kovac are repeating my words, that Croatia depends on how destination countries will act, because nobody has any particular wish to stay in Croatia.”

Ostojic said a uniform European policy must be defined to stop the migrant flow because any one-sided decisions could cause serious incidents. Speaking of the EU refugee policy, he said the relocation of 160,000 people now boiled down to only hundreds.

(Hina) ha

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