Croatia and EU Discuss Fight against Terrorism

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ZAGREB, January 29, 2019 – Croatia very quickly recognised that the fight against terrorism is a pledge of the stable development of the contemporary world, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said on Monday after a meeting with the European Union’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove.

“From the very start, Croatia has been very active in that process. It very quickly recognised that the fight against terrorism is a pledge of a stable development of the contemporary world, completely aware that that is, above all, the responsibility of national states. However, regional cooperation too, particularly through EU membership, can bring some added value, given that along with a majority of other security challenges today, not one state can deal with that on its own,” Božinović said.

He noted that this is De Kerchove’s first visit to Croatia although he had met with him in Brussels on several occasions, as this is an issue of common interest, particularly regarding the current issue of the EU’s comprehensive approach to the fight against terrorism through external and internal aspects.

Božinović added that the talks with the EU coordinator focused on the main objectives considering the EU’s Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy that started immediately after the 9/11 attack in the USA, when the first strategy was adopted based on UN Resolution 13/73.

Europe adopted its strategy in 2005 in several areas above all related to protecting public spaces, improving preparedness against chemical-biological and radiological challenges and suppressing financial terrorism.

“Unfortunately, terrorist attacks haven’t stopped in Europe and those committed in 2015 additionally motivated the EU to take action for further and faster solutions primarily aimed at protecting EU residents. One of the contributions of those enhanced activities led to the establishment of a special position in the European Commission – the counter-terrorism commission which is tasked with the implementation of the European security programme related to issues concerning the security of citizens, preventing radicalisation and protecting national values as well as strengthening international cooperation in this region,” Minister Božinović underlined.

As far as Croatia is concerned, he added, as part of its preparations to enter the Schengen Area, it has achieved a certain level of cooperation that has been recognised in the EU.

Also, the directives and regulations that Croatia has implemented are the direct result of the implementation of the European security programme.

“Naturally, we are all faced with the challenge of improving the interoperability of our systems. We are faced with a challenge and Croatia sees that as a challenge for itself and its own institutions as well as a new challenge as part of our preparations to chair the Council of the EU in 2020…security issues will be at the top of the agenda of matters that are discussed in the EU,” Božinović added.

He claims that Croatia is developing a third dimension that is related to international cooperation and not only with countries in the region but intensively with ‘third partners’ particularly the USA, “where we have achieved a unique, intense cooperation and have signed a memorandum of entering the USA’s international terrorist data base.”

That memorandum was signed last year in Dubrovnik, Božinović recalled. Croatia also had very intensive cooperation with Israel and a Croatian delegation, led by Božinović, is travelling to Turkey where cooperation in the fight against terrorism will also be one of the essential issues in bilateral talks.

Gilles de Kerchove said that he sees Croatia’s chairmanship of the Council of the EU as a challenge, saying he would be pleased to be able to assist. I do not think it is a secret that I believe that security issues are one of the greatest concerns for the new commission, he said.

As a member of the EU, Croatia has to be a member of certain agencies, given the fact that it has neighbours, some of which have been faced with challenges. I think that of more than 100,000 people who went to Iraq, some have joined ISIL, violated the law by joining Jihad and their return is still questionable. The question of how to stop the spreading of Jihad is also important, he underscored.

The EU anti-terrorist coordinator said that the EU had taken big steps over the past three or four years with regard to security issues within the Union’s borders but also regarding the Schengen borders. It is good that we don’t have growing terrorism in Croatia, De Kerchove said.

De Kerchove believes that, because Croatia is familiar with the region, it can be of assistance to countries in the Western Balkans in meeting their obligations, as security is one of the most important issues for accession to the EU.

More news on the security issues in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.


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