Croatia Declines EU Frontex’s Help in Controlling Borders

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, September 20, 2018 – The Croatian police are capable of controlling the Croatian border on their own and doesn’t need additional help from the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) which should be deployed to the first EU external borders, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday in Salzburg.

“Our cooperation with Frontex is excellent. A Frontex plane from Zadar is controlling the entire area of Southeast Europe. As far as Frontex forces that are supposed to be deployed to Southeast Europe are concerned, we are of the opinion that they need to go to the external border, to strengthen those countries where permeability is greater. We, as far as our abilities are concerned, are very strong and good and I don’t see that Croatia’s police need additional assistance,” Plenković said in Salzburg, where he is attending an informal meeting of heads of state or government of EU member states and a summit of European People’s Party (EPP) leaders. The main topics of the summit are migrants and Brexit.

A few days ago the European Commission proposed to significantly strengthen Frontex so that it could become a real European coast and border guard. It was recommended to increase the number of the agency’s members from the current 1,500 to 10,000 by 2020. Members of the border and coast guard could, according to the Commission’s proposal, conduct tasks requiring executive authority such as identity checks, approving or rejecting entry at external borders, and intercepting people at the border in order to ensure full operability.

Southern EU members are sceptical toward the proposal because it could interfere with the sovereign rights of member states to control their borders.

In an interview with the Der Standard of Wednesday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that Italy, Greece and Spain are opposed to the idea that the European border agency form forces that would be deployed to the EU borders. Some member states are sceptical toward the idea to extend Frontex’s mandate. We have to convince them, Kurz said.

Plenković underscored that the problem of migrations has to be solved at their origin. “That is the only sustainable path in the long term,” he said and added that a comprehensive approach to the migration issue included a firm external border for those located on the eastern Mediterranean route. That means respecting the agreement with Turkey and strengthening the border between Greece and Turkey and between Greece and Macedonia, where more illegal migrants are transiting through Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina toward Croatia, he said.

“We are strengthening our abilities. There are 6,500 police officers at Croatia’s borders and that is our contribution. As far as our obligations regarding the relocation and resettlement of refugees are concerned, we stand by that without any dilemmas. We are regularly making payments. The fifth instalment is about to go to Turkey. Then we have one more and all together that will be almost six million euro, which is very solid considering the size of our country. I think that we have shown to be constructive and serious, just as we have with regard to secondary migrations within the EU,” Plenković said.

Asked what stance he would take if the European Council were to vote on the European Parliament’s initiative to launch proceedings against Hungary pursuant to Article 7 of the EU Treaty, which could theoretically lead to withdrawing Hungary’s voting rights, Plenković said: “I answered everything today in the Croatian parliament. This is just an initiative and it is far from any formal procedure.”

As for the HDZ members of the European Parliament voting against a report on Hungary, Plenković said the reason for their doing so was that the procedure had not been launched by the European Commission but by representatives of one political group. He said that the EPP summit would not discuss Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party, which is a member of the EPP.

At the last plenary session of the European Parliament, the majority of MEPs voted for a report to launch proceedings against Hungary.


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