Photograph: vlada.gov.hr

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said on Tuesday that there would be no armed conflicts in the Balkans if Germany closed its borders to refugees and migrants, adding that Croatia could close its border "much faster" than Germany.

Asked by the press to comment on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's expressing concern that Germany's possible closure of its border to refugees could spark new armed conflicts in the Balkans, Milanovic said that Merkel was very cautious with her statements, always had "two, three lines of defence" and that he understood her behaviour.

"However, Germany cannot close its border. Croatia will always do it much faster than Germany. (There will be) no armed conflicts whatsoever," he told reporters before touring a section of the Jakusevec-Velika Gorica road which connects to the highway A11 Zagreb-Sisak.

Milanovic also said that he no longer informed the public about his conversations with Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar because they had become a routine.

"I think that this situation (refugee crisis) should not become a routine. It should stop. (Turkish President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan has won (Sunday's election) and he will now probably be more willing to negotiate and compromise... This is a geopolitical game whose victims are those poor people," said Milanovic.

As for the refugee crisis, Croatia has proven to be a very organised state, he said. "I am satisfied with the way we have been handling it, the way my associates, the Croatian police, have been doing it."

Addressing a meeting of her CDU party in Darmstadt on Monday evening, Merkel expressed fear that closure of the German borders to refugees might trigger off new armed conflicts in the Balkans.

Merkel said that the closure of the borders by Hungary and the rerouting of refugees via Croatia and Slovenia had shown that it takes little to cause tension and conflict.

I don't want to be pessimistic, but this goes faster than we think. A quarrel leads to a conflict and that can lead to something that no one wants, Merkel said, explaining her policy of openness to refugees and why she thought it would be wrong for Germany to close its borders, as demanded by some sections of her party. 

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