Croatian PM in Brussels to discuss refugee crisis.
Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Orešković has arrived on a three-day visit to Brussels, where he will for the first time represent Croatia at a meeting of the European Council. Last night, he took part in a working dinner about the migrant crisis. After the dinner, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolić said that Austria’s intentions to tighten controls on its borders could lead to unrest. “I expect that migrants might at all costs want to enter Europe and that we might no longer be able to stop them peacefully”, said Nikolić after the working dinner which was organized by the European Council President Donald Tusk and included prime ministers of Slovenia and Croatia and presidents of Serbia and Macedonia. He added that the situation was “alarming”, reports Vecernji List on February 18, 2016.
Croatian PM Orešković was somewhat less dramatic. “Nobody in Europe will close borders, but they could get a little tighter now”, said Orešković. “If Austria does that, Slovenia will then respond, and then Croatia, and Serbia… Nikolić, Cerar and I had a frank discussion and, if there are any changes, we will cooperate together to solve these challenges”, said the prime minister. Slovenian Prime Minister Cerar reportedly said at the meeting that Slovenia would close its borders within two days.
The working dinner took place on the eve of today’s start of the EU summit which is expected to conclude that the external borders of the Schengen area should be closed to anyone who does not meet the entry requirements or does not submit an application for asylum in Greece. According to the draft conclusions of the European Council, “the humanitarian situation of migrants along the Western Balkan route requires urgent action”.
“It is necessary to establish capacities so that the EU can provide humanitarian aid internally, in cooperation with organizations such as the UNHCR, in order to support countries faced with a large number of refugees and migrants”, say the draft conclusions of the European Council. The draft also mentions that “it is important to remain vigilant about the possible development of new routes so that rapid action can be taken”. German Ambassador to BiH Christian Hellbach said recently in Sarajevo that “Bosnia and Herzegovina has not yet been affected by the refugee crisis, but that could soon change”. Many fear that the closure of the Macedonian-Greek border could divert the refugee route from Greece to Albania. Prime Minister Orešković reiterated that Croatia supports the Slovenian idea of helping Macedonia protect its border with Greece.
Slovenia yesterday adopted a decision which will allow the Slovenian army to act near the Slovenian-Croatian border with police authority if the migrant crisis continues. Similar decision has already been made by Hungary after it built a fence on its borders with Serbia and Croatia. Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec said that the decision was made so that Slovenia would not become a “long-term pocket” for migrants.