Croatian Foreign Minister Kovač Talks about Refugee Crisis

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Foreign Minister says Croatia would have no problem with the visa-free regime for Turkey.

Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovač gave an interview to German daily Handelsblatt. He said Croatia wanted to limit the number of refugees coming to Europe and at the same time explained that Croatia would have no problem with the abolition of visas for Turkish citizens, reports Večernji List on March 18, 2016.

“Croatia advocates a wise and sustainable solution to the refugee crisis, a pan-European solution. And there is no sustainable solution without Turkey”, said Kovač. He rejected the suggestion that Croatia was one of the countries which had taken unilateral moves along the so-called Balkan route. “On the contrary, Croatia is pleased and even proud that we have managed to establish effective cooperation with Austria and Slovenia, and non-EU member states Serbia and Macedonia. This has contributed to a marked reduction in the number of refugees”, said Kovač.

“From the very beginning, we should have tackled the issue of controlling the EU external borders at the European level. And we were too late in including NATO. This should have happened much earlier”, said Kovač.

Regarding the negotiations between the EU and Turkey, Kovač explained that Croatia has no problem with a visa-free regime for Turkey. “Before Croatia became a member of the EU, Turkish citizens did not need a visa to enter Croatia. So, Croatia can certainly live with the abolition of visas for Turkish citizens”, said Kovač.

He indirectly expressed his opinion that Germany should introduce an upper limit to the number of refugees. “I do not have a right to give advice to the German government. But, we are all responsible for the future of the European Union, and large states carry more responsibility than small states. That means that, if Germany does not impose an upper limit, then refugees and migrants will still want to come to Europe, including through Croatia. That is clear”, concluded Kovač.

The Foreign Minister at the end called for the continuation of the process of enlargement of the EU to neighbouring countries. “We need to maintain the EU perspective for the countries of Southeast Europe. It is in our best interest to one day welcome our neighbours to the common European Union. Despite the problems, the EU still has appeal, but the criteria must be met. Croatia will be strict, but fair”, concluded the Croatian Foreign Minister.


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