Croatia Dismisses Bosnian Claims about Illegal Return of Migrants

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ZAGREB, February 21, 2019 – Croatia’s Interior Minister Davor Božinović on Wednesday rejected the Bihać mayor’s accusations about the Croatian police illegally entering Bosnia and Herzegovina in Una-Sana Canton to bring back illegal migrants who were found on Croatian territory.

“I dismiss such insinuations. These are false accusations aimed at diverting attention from the key question of how those people came to Bihać and why they arrived there,” Božinović said in Istanbul where he attended a two-day conference on migrations organised by the Budapest Process.

Back in 2017 we alerted Bosnia and Herzegovina’s authorities about the trend of increasing migrant tides through Bosnia and Herzegovina and suggested that they should step up the protection of the borders with the countries from which migrants were arriving to Bosnia. Furthermore, it has been clearly stated on several occasions that the problem cannot be solved by allowing migrants to walk illegally into Croatia, Božinović said.

Croatia does now allow irregular migrations and is permanently reinforcing the police force to protect the borders, primarily due to irregular migrants who are trying to enter our country from Una-Sana Canton, obviously with the permission of those who are supposed to deter them, the Croatian minister said.

The Bihac mayor, Suhret Fazlić, made the accusations against the Croatian police at a session of the Bihać town council which discussed the migrant crisis which hit this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina the hardest.

Prevention and combating of irregular migrations and enhancement of conditions for regular migrants and their integration are key targets of a five-year plan of the Budapest Process, which held a conference in Istanbul on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Interior Minister Davor Božinović, who represented Croatia at the conference, said on Wednesday that all countries along the migrant route should enhance their cooperation.

Addressing the conference, Božinović underscored that commitment to the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms “is supposed to go hand in hand with the right of each country to control its borders and define its migrations policy” in order to curb irregular migrations and help refugees in need.

In his statement for Hina, Božinović said that the main conclusion of the Istanbul conference is that countries that are the source of migrations, transit countries and destination countries in Europe need to cooperate more closely.

“We, too, are registering a growing number of irregular migrants from the countries of the Silk Road route that are here – Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iran. It is therefore essential to open talks and see, from the perspective of the European Union and a wider international community, how that issue should be approached and how the reasons why those irregular migrants are leaving (those countries) should be tackled. Nothing will be solved overnight but dialogue is important,” the Croatian minister said.

The Budapest Process is a consultative forum with over 50 governments and numerous international organisations, aiming at developing comprehensive and sustainable systems for orderly migration. During its more than 25 years of operation, the Process has developed from an information sharing tool between European countries in a pre-EU enlargement setting to a far-reaching European-Asian forum for improving migration management. It has been chaired by Turkey and co-chaired by Hungary since 2006.

Asked about the arrivals of regular migrants who seek asylum in Croatia, Božinović said that Croatia had already taken in about 150 refugees and that it was planning to accommodate an additional hundred refugees.

Croatia is recognised in the international community as a member that participates in the process of refugee resettlement and it is proving its humanity to the extent to which it can afford it, he said.

During his two-day stay in Istanbul, Božinović held bilateral talks with his colleagues from Hungary, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Greece.

He underscored that his talks with his counterparts from Afghanistan and Pakistan focused on the developments in those two Asian countries.

The Budapest Process identifies several priority areas including preventing and counteracting irregular migration while facilitating return and readmission of irregular migrants and fighting illegal networks for migrant smuggling as well as strengthening the positive impact of migration on development.

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


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