greece migrants refugees.jpg
Photograph: EPA/ARMANDO BABANI

Croatia should be receiving the first Syrian refugees allocated to it in June, thirty of whom will be resettled from Turkey and ten refugees each to be relocated from Greece and Italy as part of the EU scheme for relocation and resettlement, Croatian Interior Minister Vlaho Orepic said in Luxembourg on Thursday.

"The government has defined that in the period from June 8 to July 8 it will take in 30 people from Turkey and another ten each from Greece and Italy, that is a total of 50 people," Orepic said in Luxembourg where he was attending a meeting of European Union Justice and Home Affairs Council.

The council meeting, amongst else, discussed the implementation of the EU-Turkey agreement concluded last month which envisages that all illegal migrants arriving from Turkey to Greek islands have to be returned to Turkey. In exchange, the EU will directly take in one refugee from Turkey for each Syrian returned from Greece to Turkey.

Earlier, the EU bloc's member-states agreed to relieve the burden borne by Italy and Greece, countries on the exterior borders of the EU and to distribute refugees according to capabilities of each individual member state.

The scheme envisages the relocation of refugees from member states that have so far received the highest number of Middle Eastern refugees to other EU countries whereas the agreement with Turkey refers to a resettlement programme directly from third countries to the EU.

The two programmes envisage that Croatia takes in 1,600 people on the aggregate. "We will certainly do that, the government has decided resolutely and we have a firm stance that we need to share the responsibility of this joint problem," Orepic said.

He added that Croatia would soon pay its financial obligations toward Turkey for this year which amounts to 1.7 million euro.

EU ministers today focused on the use and interoperability of databases and the recent Commission proposals on the smart borders package.

They are expected to exchange views on the Commission's communication on the reform of the common European asylum system.

The Council will take note of progress on the proposal for a European border guard, on which the Council adopted its position on 6 April 2016.

Orepic said that Croatia would deploy 140 people in the European border and coast guard.

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