Ban on economic migrants to stay in force until EU takes clear position, says minister

Croatian Minister of the Interior Ranko Ostojic told reporters at the refugee transit centre in Slavonski Brod on Monday that the current ban on the passage of economic migrants from countries unaffected by war along the Balkan refugee route would remain in force until the European Union took a clear position on the matter.

The minister recalled that differentiating between refugees was due to a unilateral decision by Slovenian authorities and their request for the readmission to economic migrants by Croatia.

"At this moment there is no such restriction in Germany," Ostojic said.

The UNHCR last week warned that new migrant routes could be established due to the ban on the passage of economic migrants on the Macedonian-Greek border, a position Ostojic agreed with, mentioning a recently established refugee route passing through Bulgaria.

Ostojic said that illegal border crossings posed a threat to other countries on the Balkan route as well. According to information available to Croatian authorities, the current share of economic migrants in the migrant population is 6.3% and at the beginning of the refugee crisis it was around 1.6%. Since the crisis spilled over to Croatia in mid-September, 457,005 people have passed through the country and in the last 24 hours 3,060 passed through the transit centre in Slavonski Brod.

Compared to the past week, the number of transiting refugees is rising mildly but their number is still much below the average 6,500, which is how many refugees used to pass through Croatia daily.

"One of the reasons is the weather. The other is additional activity by the Turkish coast guard in light of the Brussels meeting. However, we are getting back to the previous figures," Ostojic said, adding that between midnight and 9 am on Monday, 2,016 refugees entered the country and continued their journey to Slovenia.

Ostojic said that one could not expect the new refugee regime in Turkey to start functioning fully, recalling that hotspots in Turkey were expected to stop the influx of refugees onto Greek islands. To help stop the refugee wave in Turkey, Croatia should contribute seven million euros into a joint EU fund. Ostojic conveyed Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic's position that Croatia currently could not assume that obligation because the amount in question was such that its approval would have to wait for the formation of the country's new government.

Speaking of his visits to Greece and Macedonia last week, Ostojic said that the Croatian members of the EU's joint Frontex border management teams had been commended by Greek authorities. During the visit to Macedonia, it was agreed that Macedonia would introduce a system of refugee registration that would be in line with Croatian standards, which should facilitate and improve control. Croatia will donate Macedonia the necessary equipment, Ostojic said.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49
Author: 

View the discussion thread.

More from Croatia

Croatian 15-year-olds still underperform in PISA survey

Croatian 15-year-olds are still below the average performance in reading, mathematics and science compared with...

Marathon-long session on budget ends, vote may be after 3 days

Croatia's parliament finished a 14-hour long session on a 2017 draft budget shortly after Saturday midnight, and...

High level of ICT integration in Croatian businesses - DZS

As many as 77% of Croatian households and 91% of businesses had access to the Internet in 2016, and in this outgoing...

PM and county heads to identify priorities of Croatia's regions

Addressing a two-day conference on competitiveness of local self-government, held in Trakoscan, Prime Minister...

Croats bag 1 silver and 5 bronze medals at Int'l Junior Science Olympiad

Croatian students pocketed a silver medal and five bronze medals during the 13th edition of the International Junior...