Milanović: Croatia has a Heart but we Have a Brain Too!

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We are turining to plan B – stricter rules but still a humane approach

In today’s extraordinary press conference, Prime Minister of Croatia, Zoran Milanović addressed the current refugee crisis in the country and immediately thanked everyone who is helping in this situation from volunteers to all public services on the field.

“Croatia has shown that we have a heart, but we also have a brain. We can no longer accept the burden of thousands of refugees any longer. We refuse to become what the bureaucrats within the EU, with minimum wage of 10 000 eur a month call a “refugee hot spot and the European Union must know this. We have to turn to plan B, and in this plan B Croatia will no longer be registering or providing accommodation to migrants. We will provide food, water, medical assistance if it is required, however, since Croatia is not their final destination, we will organise transport for them and direct them towards Slovenia and Hungary” Milanović stated.

Milanović also called a meeting of the National Security Council for this afternoon, but as he soon explained, council is not a decision making body, the meeting is more of a gesture towards the President Grabar Kitarović.

Prime minister addressed the criticism coming from the opposition and their requests to send out the army ” Sending the army is not constitutional, not possible and in the end not human. We have not declared a state of war, but this doesn’t mean our army is sleeping. They are following closely everything that is happening along our borders from the far south up to the east”. As for their calls to completely close the borders, Prime Minister stated that it is physically impossible to close hundreds of kilometres of borders, and that we cannot close Bajakovo border crossing since that would cause great economic damage since it is the main road used for all trade and export in Croatia. He called for his opponents to stop using the situation to gain cheap political points, especially referring to those who “have their economic programmes drawn up in Germany, take meetings with bank directors in Klagenfurt and create their policy towards refugees in Budapest”

” As I said earlier, we have a great heart, but we also have a good head on our shoulders. We have reached our maximum, we cannot allow this crisis to threaten the security of our country. I don’t mean to apply that these people are terrorists, I want to say that this situation can have an impact on our economy and our tourism. We don’t want people cancelling their bookings out of fear that we might close the borders at some point leaving them stranded. We have a great responsibility to our people and our country.

“It is time for the EU to stop turning a blind eye to the situation and to wait for someone else to solve their problem. Germany has shown great compassion and warmth but Chancellor Merkel’s statements were taken as an open invitation to migrants, so now that everyone whats to come to Germany, it is up to all other EU members to allow these people to pass through. I spoke to the PM of Austria yesterday. There are 55 000 migrants in Austria at the moment and most of them are considering to stay in the country. Those problems I can understand and sympathise with, but I cannot sympathise with Hungary and Slovenia. Both these countries are well aware that refugees are only using their countries as a passage to grade I Schengen countries and yet, they refuse to let them go through. Are they not clean enough for them?”  – Milanović continued.

He also asked Europe to investigate the root of the problem and the first entry point into the Schengen “Why is the EU allowing uncontrolled entry through Greece from Turkey? Greece is acting like a toll free highway. They help the refugees to reach their islands and send them on their way towards their desired destination”.

Along with assuring all County prefects in the areas affected by the crisis that all the cost that arose from the crisis will be reimbursed down to the very last lipa from our own resources, Milanović stated that all refugees will be treated with dignity, no barb wire fences, dogs or any other inhumane treatments will ever be applied in Croatia since we have been through an ordeal and we know what they are going through.

Watch the full press conference below (in Croatian).


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