ranko ostojić.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Damir SENČAR /ds

Croatia will tighten the criteria for the admission of refugees and will stop allowing in foreigners not coming from war-torn countries, as has also been decided by Slovenia, Serbia and Macedonia, Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic announced on Thursday."Some people cannot receive international protection. These are primarily citizens of Morocco, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Algeria, Liberia, Congo, Sudan and Pakistan.

We did not accept Slovenia's demand, but we immediately notified our colleagues in Macedonia and Serbia that citizens of these countries will no longer be allowed to pass along this route," Ostojic told reporters at the refugee reception centre in Slavonski Brod, 200 kilometres east of Zagreb. "Otherwise we will have to treat them like illegal migrants," he added.

He had been asked by a reporter to comment on Slovenia's demand for the readmission of 162 migrants from countries that were not affected by war, who had arrived in Slovenia via Croatia. He said this issue would be discussed in greater detail at a video conference to be held later today in all countries along the refugee route.

"Croatia did not agree to their readmission because there has been no agreement on this aspect of the refugee crisis," Ostojic said, adding that the figure of 162 people was not a problem, but that their number could increase unless measures were taken at the start of the refugee route.

Ostojic said that Croatia had previously denied passage to citizens of Algeria, Turkey, Kosovo and in one case Haiti.

Slovenia has stopped receiving foreigners who are believed to be economic migrants rather than refugees fleeing war in the Middle East. Macedonia and Serbia have already opted for similar measures.

In the last 24 hours, 5,180 refugees have arrived in Croatia, and since mid-September 416,915 have passed through the country on their way to western and northern Europe.

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