If Slovenia and Austria close their borders to refugees, Croatia will have to do the same, the secretary for international relations of the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, Mirko Kovac, said in an interview with Croatian Television on Saturday evening.

That will cause a domino effect and Serbia will have to do the same with Macedonia, he added.

Speaking of possible steps by the new government in dealing with the refugee crisis as pressure was increasing on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to scrap the open-door policy towards refugees, Kovac said that Croatia would have to be very tough and efficient and would use the army to effectively protect its borders.

Asked if the new government was considering putting up wire fencing on the border, Kovac said that the parliamentary majority had not yet taken a position on this issue, adding that the new government would be presented next Friday and would take a stance on the refugee crisis shortly after.

Kovac said that the outgoing government had fallen out with the neighbours and failed to show efficiency, noting that the national chief of police had not attended a meeting with his Slovenian and Austrian counterparts recently. He stressed that the new government would cooperate with the neighbours.

Asked about the possible deployment of the military along the borders, Kovac said that that would require legislative amendments. He ruled out a possibility of Croatia becoming a waiting area or hotspot for refugees.

There are indications that the Austrians might close their border in the next few weeks, after which the Slovenians might do the same, so there is a danger of refugees passing through Croatia getting stuck here and staying, Kovac warned. 

He said that Croatia could not be a long-term EU collection centre for refugees because those people did not want to stay in Croatia but wanted to move on to northern Europe. A solution should be sought that will include all EU members, especially those on the so-called Balkan route, but until that starts to function we will have to have a national solution, he added.

Kovac declined to say whether he would be foreign minister in the new government, adding that Prime Minister-designate Tihomir Oreskovic would present candidates for the new cabinet on Friday. He said that HDZ leader Tomislav Karamarko would be proposed as first deputy prime minister and Bridge party leader Bozo Petrov as deputy prime minister.

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