Croatian army won't be sent to border, says defence minister

Defence Minister Ante Kotromanovic said on Wednesday that for now Croatia had no need to send troops to the border like Slovenia did, and that he called on "the usual alarmists to cool it" because refugees had not stolen even an egg in Croatia.

Responding to questions from the press in Dubrovnik, where he was attending a meeting of southeast European defence ministers, he said Croatia would not send the army to the border like Slovenia.

"That's Slovenia's decision. We have no need for that for now. We have enough police who can maintain peace and order in the country and on the border. I don't know their motive and it's unimportant to me. We have been managing the crisis from the start and in every situation, even with the sometimes stronger influx of refugees coming without control to Macedonia, then Serbia, then here, we have managed to handle it. I call on all the usual alarmists and those spreading hysteria to cool it and calm down" because the refugees "haven't stolen even an egg and there has been no trouble."

"As long as Germany receives refugees, we will continue to work this way. When Germany says enough, and we'll know a few days before, then we'll know what to do," he said, adding that the prime ministers of Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Austria and Germany would meet in Brussels on Sunday "and then we'll know what the options are."

Asked if the army would put up a fence on the border if such a decision was made, he said, "I have no idea who will build the fence. I can't imagine the Germans now building a wire fence, then the Austrians, then the Slovenians. The Hungarians have already done so and I suppose now the Croatians should toward Serbia, then the Serbians on the Macedonian border. There's no common European policy. Someone should assume leadership and I think Germany must now define the policy to which we'll all have to submit."

Responding to questions from the press, Bosnian Defence Minister Marina Pendes said Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) had plans in case borders were sealed. "We'll certainly have certain problems if this refugee crisis lasts longer. We have envisaged two scenarios - the possible inflow of refugees and migrants from Serbia in the northeast and the southeast. If their influx isn't controlled, that's dangerous for the refugees too because plenty of land in BiH is covered in (leftover) mines, notably in the northeast. Last year's floods again covered the areas we had cleared of mines and that would be a big security challenge."

The defence ministers signed an agreement on cooperation and assistance, and discussed regional and defence cooperation, joint projects and possible threats. This was their third meeting, after Slovenia and Montenegro.

Last update: Sat, 24/10/2015 - 19:37

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