Croatian minister: EU seeking joint response to migrant crisis


Europe is searching for a joint response to the migrant crisis, within which EU members would have their share of responsibility, Croatian Interior Minister Vlaho Orepic said on Thursday.

Orepic was attending a meeting of EU interior ministers in Brussels on Thursday and on Wednesday he took part in a meeting which brought together nine interior ministers from the countries on the Balkan route. Prior to today’s meeting, the ministers of the interior of EU member-states: Croatia, Austria, Greece, Germany and Slovenia met with their colleagues from Serbia and Macedonia.

“Yesterday’s meeting in Vienna and today’s meeting here are aimed at defining joint responsibility and within that joint responsibility, individual responsibility of all members. We are heading towards a solution,” Orepic told the press.

“We are now working based on the profiling we conducted on the Macedonian-Greek border. However, now we have some new restrictions and they are being defined at these meetings. The point is to find a joint EU approach towards the migrant crisis,” Orepic said.

The minister underscored that at this moment there was no fear of a new migrant route over Albania, given that a large number of refugees have started to accumulate in Greece after Macedonia stepped up its migrant entry regime.

“At this moment there is no fear of new migrant routes. I do not wish to speculate what can happen later,” Orepic said.

Asked if he was abandoning the policy of his predecessor to transport refugees to the border towards western Europe as fast as possible, Orepic said: “That is not the way I would approach this problem.”

“Croatia supports a joint response. We are functioning in our area the best to our abilities. I am trying to act in accordance with the Schengen Code and with everything else that is necessary,” the minister said.

The European Union has great expectations of the coming summit with Turkey, scheduled for March 7.

“We have to wait to hear what the heads of state and governments have to say. I believe the time has come for concrete answers to concrete problems,” Orepic said.

The establishment of a European Border and Coast Guard was on the agenda of the ministerial meeting, as well as the systematic control at external borders and the policy of returning migrants who are not entitled to to international protection.

Member states have so far agreed to a number of measures to manage the migrant crisis, but the implementation of those measures is slow or none at all. A number of countries have introduced restrictive measures so as to deter refugees from attempting to head toward Europe’s north and west. This has led to divisions among member states and brought into question the Schengen area. Last year over a million people entered the EU, which created the biggest migrant crisis since World War II.

(Hina) its