Refugees Refuse to Stay in Croatia

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Interior Minister Orepić speaks about migrant and refugee crisis.

Croatian Interior Minister Vlaho Orepić said in an interview with Deutsche Welle that Croatia wanted to fulfil its quota for European redistribution of refugees, but the problem is that they do not want to come to Croatia, reports Večernji List on February 13, 2017.

“Croatia supports the common security policy, it has a very good cooperation with Frontex, and successfully protects external borders of the European Union”, said Orepić.

He emphasized good cooperation with neighbouring countries in this effort and reiterated that the so-called Balkan route was closed. “At the same time, we are fulfilling our obligations when it comes to the redistribution of refugees. We should receive 1,563 refugees. The problem is that they do not want to come to Croatia. So far, we have received just 19 refugees on the basis of this agreement and we are in the process of receiving another 30 refugees from Greece and 20 from Italy. We would be happy if we could fulfil the quota, but we cannot do it. They want to continue to other countries, for them Croatia is just a transit country”, he stressed.

Orepić denied allegations about poor conditions at the Porin reception centre in Zagreb. “The people who are there have better conditions than 90 percent of Croatian schools. The rooms are better equipped than most student dormitories. Many Croatian citizens live in worse conditions than migrants. These charges are false”, he said.

He reiterated that the police would investigate reports from non-governmental organizations about police misconduct against migrants on the Croatian-Serbian border. “If we find that someone has overstepped their authority, they will be fired. Such people cannot be police officers in Croatia. But, I do not believe that the allegations are true. We are very successfully protecting our borders and that makes smugglers very unhappy. And that is why they are now trying to manipulate NGOs with false witnesses and provoke the public in order to continue with their activities. We will not allow that to happen”, said Orepić.

He added that it was important to cooperate well on the borders and to systematically deport individuals who illegally cross the border, adding that it was questionable whether they were asylum seekers at all. “There are very good reasons to doubt whether they are asylum seekers at all. We can talk about asylum if someone comes from an insecure country into a safe country. They register and receive protection. But, people come to us from safe countries and do not want to register anywhere until they come to the country to which they intended to go. These are nor asylum seekers, but economic migrants”, he said.

Speaking about fences which have been erected by Hungary and Slovenia on the border with Croatia, Orepić said that Croatia had no intention to solve problems with fences, but rather with mutual respect. “You cannot solve any problem with a fence. What to do if the fence is not enough? Construct a fence inside a fence? No. You need to control the borders and at the same time help people seeking protection. And it should be done on the basis of mutual respect: they must respect our rules and norms, and we must be aware of their problems and needs”, concluded the Minister.


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