Interior Minister: Talks Yet to Be Held on Taking in Migrants

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, July 23, 2019 – Interior Minister Davor Božinović on Tuesday commented on information that after Croatia takes over the chairmanship of the Council of the EU next year, it could start to receive migrants directly from ships in the Mediterranean, saying that there has been no agreement in that regard and that talks are yet to be held on that matter.

The Večernji List daily on Tuesday reported that Croatia has not received any migrants from ships in the Mediterranean and that it will most likely have to consider the fact that other member states that chaired the EU, like Bulgaria, Romania and Finland, took in migrants directly from ships in the Mediterranean. This is a symbolic gesture of taking in one or two migrants and not from every ship.

“You have information that no one else in the EU has, in particular those people who talked. No agreement exists, talks exist,” Božinović said responding to reporters.

He recalled that from the first day, Croatia had been expressing its willingness to respect Europe’s principle of solidarity, which he said had provided for a billion kuna investment in protecting Croatia’s border. He mentioned that negotiations were held on an additional 20 million euro to technically equip Croatia’s border.

Božinović believes that the EU will find a balanced solution to the migrant issue, underlining that no one was putting pressure on Croatia nor could they.

He also added that Croatia had not committed to anything and if it contributed in that regard, it would be a symbolic gesture.

Božinović believes that Croatia is prepared to enter the Schengen Area and said communication with the European Commission is in line with that assessment. “Of the eight chapters that we had to comply with in the evaluation, seven have already been closed, the eighth is nearing completion, and Schengen evaluators visited this section of the Croatian border,” he said.

Božinović claimed that “there is a deep respect and gratitude in the European Commission and EU toward the Croatian police for everything they are doing.”

Asked whether he was worried about claims of inhumane conduct by Croatia’s police toward migrants, made by an unnamed police officer in an anonymous letter to Human Rights Ombudswoman Lora Vidović, Božinović said that an investigation was immediately started to examine the claims, but added that he was concerned that the letter was leaked to the public.

He underscored that the ministry conducted between 300 and 500 disciplinary procedures annually which result in various penalties against police officers, ranging from the mildest to some officers being suspended.

Commenting on the situation in Vukovar following a Constitutional Court decision that the rights of the Serb minority in that city have to be improved and the reaction by the city authorities, Božinović claimed that the government had shown its openness to resolve all issues that might burden relations in Croatia. “We are doing that with all interested parties through dialogue,” he said.

“The messages coming from Vukovar over the past few days have been encouraging but it is first and foremost necessary to hear the people who live there and their representatives in the City Assembly who know best at what pace they can achieve or improve the standard that we all are aspire to,” Božinović underscored.

The government will continue, as it has until now, to respect the Constitutional Court’s decisions and a solution will be reached through dialogue, for which many sides have shown interest and readiness, said Božinović.

More news about the migrant crisis can be found in the Politics section.


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