Interior Ministry Denies that Balkan Migrant Route Has Been Reactivated

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Former Interior Minister Ostojić claims that Croatia is not ready for another migrant wave.

A year ago, a wave of refugees arrived in Croatia and, after failed negotiations between the European Union and Turkey, it is possible that the same scenario could repeat this year. Former Interior Minister Ranko Ostojić said that the Balkan route has already been reactivated and that a new migrant wave could arrive in Croatia very soon, reports on September 20, 2016.

Ostojić said that Croatia was not ready for such a scenario, especially if it ceases to be just a transit country. “Croatia is not ready because the transit of refugees to Slovenia would not be allowed. There is a risk that Croatia could become a hot spot”, said Ostojić, who was the Interior Minister during last year’s migrant crisis. “The migrants are coming from EU countries which are letting them pass, and Croatia is expected to keep them here.”

Asked what should Croatia do, he said that it needed to urgently demand a coherent and effective response from the EU. “I do not know what kind of arrangements we have with neighbours. We should urgently demand EU response towards Turkey, Macedonia, Serbia and Bulgaria”, said Ostojić.

However, the Interior Ministry claims that the Balkan route has not been reactivated. “Although in the past two months there has been a noticeable increase in the number of attempted illegal crossings, we cannot talk about the reactivation of the Balkan route”, said the Ministry in a statement. Still, instead of answering the question whether Croatia was ready for a larger number of refugees and whether it could become a hot spot, the Ministry just repeated the statement of Interior Minister Vlaho Orepić given ten days ago.

“We are continuously monitoring the situation on the border with Serbia, and we exchange information with other EU member states and Frontex. The deployment pattern of police officers and equipment, in accordance with the risk analysis, confirms there is no risk of reactivation of the Balkan route which would affect Croatia”, said Orepić.

According to latest data, in Serbia there are 1,415 permanent and 2,524 temporary migrants. They are mainly accommodated in Horgoš and Subotica near the border with Hungary and in camps in Šid, Adaševci and Principovac, nearer to Croatia. Most of the migrants are citizens of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq, whom Hungarian authorities generally do not allow to enter their country and return them to Serbia.

“Croatian border police is ready to respond to any situation with its personnel and equipment. In the context of integrated border management, along with a planned engagement of other government agencies, it will cover all relevant issues related to potential migration wave. In the meantime, we appeal to journalists to refrain from spreading irresponsible reports in order to avoid creating panic and unfounded public concerns on the issue of migrant crisis, which at this point really does not have any element of a crisis”, said Minister Orepić in a statement.


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