HDZ: “If Necessary, Croatia Will Close Its Borders for Refugees”

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Are we about to witness a major shirt in Croatia’s refugee policy with recent events and a new government?

Miro Kovač, the international secretary of HDZ, the senior coalition partner in the new Croatian government which should take power on Friday, said on Saturday that Croatia will not become a reception centre for refugees and that it will have to be strict and effective and, if necessary, close its borders and physically protect them, reports Jutarnji List on January 17 2016.

“If Slovenia and Austria were to close their borders, Croatia will have to do the same, which will cause a domino effect, so Serbia will have to do the same on its border with Macedonia”, said Kovač yesterday talking about possible decisions of the incoming government, given that in Germany there is growing pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel to abandon her open door policy towards refugees.

Croatia will have to be very strict and efficient, and use even the army in order to effectively protect the border, said Kovač. Asked whether they were thinking about building a border fence, he said that the parliamentary majority had not yet taken a position on this and added that on Friday Croatia will get a new government which will very soon announce its position on the refugee crisis.

He added that the outgoing Croatian government had worsened relations with neighbouring countries and noted that the director of the Croatian police did not attend a recent meeting with his colleagues from Slovenia and Austria. The new Croatian government will cooperate with the neighbours and will avoid confrontations, said Kovač. If it becomes necessary to close the border, we will consider the ways to physically protect it, said Kovač, adding that Slovenia had put up the fence, while Austria did it partially.

Asked about the engagement of the armed forces, Kovač said that this was possible with changes in the law. He forcefully rejected the possibility that Croatia could become a refugee centre. There are indications that the Austrians in the next few weeks could close their borders, which would be followed by similar decision by Slovenia as well, and there is a risk that those who are passing through Croatia could remain here, warned Kovač. It is necessary to find a solution that would involve all EU Member States, particularly those on the so-called Balkan route, but until that becomes operational, we will have to develop our own national solution, said Kovač.

He did not want to respond to multiple questions whether he is the new Croatian foreign minister. He just said that Prime Minister-designate Tihomir Orešković will present the new government on Friday and that he has met with Orešković several times.


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