ZAGREB, January 25, 2018 – Croatia’s Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, speaking at an informal meeting of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council in Sofia on Thursday, said that every country had a sovereign right to protect its borders and decide who to allow into its territory.
The migration crisis of 2015 highlighted the need to reform the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) to make it uniform, more effective and more resilient to migratory pressures and prevent its abuse. Pursuant to the European Council decision of December 2017, an agreement on the reform should be reached by June this year.
Croatia supports the reform of the CEAS, as well as of the Dublin Regulation, but the member states should not be overburdened with the redistribution of asylum seekers, and solidarity should be within the capabilities of each member state, Božinović said according to a press release from the Ministry of the Interior.
The Dublin Regulation determines the member state responsible for examining an asylum application and defines quotas for redistribution in case of the uneven distribution of asylum applications among member states.
The informal meeting also discussed guidelines on the EU position in negotiations on a Global Compact on Migration. Adoption of the Global Compact on Migration is required by the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, adopted at the UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants in September 2016. Its purpose is to improve migrant management at the global level.
Božinović stressed the need for good migration policies in order to make migrations safe and well managed and to reduce human trafficking and migrant smuggling. He said that at this point agreed relocation and resettlement were legal avenues for migration.
Božinović said that under the relocation plan 40 migrants had been relocated from Turkey to Croatia last year and an additional 42 Syrian refugees were being relocated from Turkey to Croatia today. He said that in relocating refugees and migrants it was necessary to take into account the needs of the labour market, education, recognition of qualifications and inclusion of migrants into the welfare system. Božinović noted that Croatia had made considerable progress in integrating migrants in recent months in cooperation with the International Organisation for Migration and the private sector.
The meeting also discussed integrated border management, which Božinović said was key to the normal functioning of the Schengen area. He said that this was especially important for Croatia as the EU member with the longest external border which aims to join the Schengen area of passport-free travel in the foreseeable future.
Croatia has recently stepped up control of its eastern border by opening the Border Police Training Centre at Spačva. It plans to set up similar centres at other locations and conduct training programmes together with the European Border Guard and Coast Guard and experts from EU member states, Božinović said.
Božinović also called for closer cooperation with EU membership candidate countries in border and migration management, especially with regard to the readmission of refugees and migrants.
On the margins of the meeting, Božinović met with Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl. They discussed migration, the situation in Southeast Europe, and future cooperation between Croatia and Austria as part of Croatia’s preparations to assume the rotating EU presidency in the first half of 2020.
Božinović and Kickl agreed to hold a bilateral meeting in February ahead of the Salzburg Forum as the Central European security partnership of Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.