“Acceding to the Visa Waiver Program was a challenging process for us, during which we concluded 14 international legal acts on cooperation and exchange of information. We have technically implemented all of them through databases and thus largely increased the capacity of our security services in detecting and reducing risk and ensuring even more effective checks of all persons crossing the border,” Božinović said.
He pointed out that in the course of intensive cooperation to fulfil all the requirements for accession to the program, Croatia had become fully connected with all air carriers flying to or out of Croatia.
Commitment to meeting criteria for accession to Global Entry program
Božinović added that Croatia was equally committed to meeting the criteria for accession to the Global Entry program, which allows expedited clearance for pre-approved travellers entering the United States and which so far includes only three European Union countries.
Inclusion in both programs is a clear confirmation of the high standards that Croatia has implemented in the last few years in combating terrorism, exchanging operational information, border management, and increasing the security of identity and travel documents, as well as trust between our two countries, he said.
“We have agreed on the final harmonisation of forms for acquiring the status of trusted traveller, the completion of establishment of special information links and the conclusion of Addendum C to the joint statement I signed with Assistant Secretary of State Gabriel Escobar in Zagreb this April,” Božinović said.
He noted that all this is an expression of trust on part of the US in Croatia and their partnership in efforts to encourage necessary reforms in southeastern Europe in order to promote democracy and rule of law.
Meetings at the State Department, Customs agency and Coast Guard
The meeting with Julieta Valls Noyes, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, focused on Croatian efforts in curbing illegal migration, land border control, combating smuggling, and accepting Ukrainian refugees.
During talks with Chris Magnus, Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, Božinović thanked the team who are working with Croatian colleagues to help Croatia join the Trusted Traveler and Global Entry program.
He said that they discussed the work of Croatian police and customs and the systems they use in managing the EU’s longest external land border. He noted that Croatia was the best among all Interpol members in terms of the number of checks and hits in the Schengen Information System.
The meeting with Admiral Steven D. Poulin, Deputy Commander of the US Coast Guard, which is part of the Department of Home Security, focused on cooperation with the Croatian maritime police, port authorities, Customs Administration and the Fisheries Inspectorate.
“Croatia has a long maritime tradition and in this area we have opened up the possibility of cooperation in training and exchange of experience with the US,” Božinović said.
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