The head of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party, Tomislav Karamarko, on Saturday extended condolences to the French people and citizens of Paris following terrorist attacks that left over 120 people killed.
"This terrorist act happened in our common home, the European Union. We are sensitised to what happened and we hope that security will be stepped up across the EU as of today. Terrorism is a latent danger, terrorist acts are a global phenomenon and should be dealt with accordingly," Karamarko told a press conference after a meeting of his party's National Security Committee.
He said he expected the Croatian government to raise the level of security to the maximum and start to cooperate more actively with neighbours to ensure that Croatia was included in plans for the defence of the EU against terrorism.
Asked to comment on Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic's statement on Saturday morning that it would not be necessary to put up a wire fence on the border and whether he thought that such fences should be erected, Karamarko said: "In this line of work we cannot say 'I hope', but we must do something." He recalled that ever since the migrant crisis hit Croatia in mid-September he had been calling for tighter border controls to prevent migrants from crossing the border illegally.
"That's not to say that we are not humane, we need to be humane, but we need to control the situation. It's important to know who is in our country. We see that everyone around us is putting up fences and I call for stricter controls on our borders. We cannot allow ourselves to become an isolated zone exposed to who knows what. I, of course, do not wish to connect the terrorist attacks with the problem of migrants, we must continue to be humane and deal with this problem in coordination with our partners in the EU. But we must pay more attention to the security aspect. We must know who is entering our country and what they are doing," Karamarko said.
Asked how to control the border, he said: "That doesn't mean putting up a wire fence. Maybe we will be putting up a wire fence in a month, maybe. We have proposed before, and we still do, that we step up police patrols, and if that's not enough then military patrols too, to direct migrants to legal border crossing points. The worst thing is to allow those people to enter illegally, because then we don't know who came in."
Commenting on the prime minister's statement that Croatia is one of the safest countries and that its citizens can be peaceful and calm, Karamarko said he was the last person to cause panic, but added that it would be irresponsible to say that Croatia was immune from terrorist attacks and that such attacks were impossible. "We are part of the EU and NATO. Why do you think that one day someone will not think of attacking Croatia too? I hope this won't happen and I can support the prime minister on that, but we should never leave anything to chance. We can only hope that it will be that way, but every day we should do all we can to ensure that it doesn't happen."
"I want to believe that the Croatian services are ready and capable of doing that, and if they are not, they should become capable as a matter of urgency," he added.
Karamarko declined to answer questions about the formation of the new government, saying that today was a day of silence and sympathy with the families of the victims. After speaking to the press, Karamarko and a delegation of the HDZ laid flowers and lit candles outside the French Embassy.
Karamarko met with the French ambassador to offer his condolences for the terrorist attacks.