tihomir orešković.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Lana SLIVAR DOMINIĆ/ lsd

Now that Austria has introduced a restrictive regime for refugee reception, Croatia will protect its national interests, but emphasis should be put on finding a solution on the Turkish-Greek border, Croatian Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said in Brussels on Friday.

"The situation is changing by the day and we will follow it daily. Croatia will protect its national interests but the main message is that cooperation is necessary with Austria, Slovenia, Serbia and Macedonia and that we should have open communication so as to be able to react on time," Oreskovic said while arriving for a summit of EU leaders.

Before the start of the summit, on Thursday afternoon, Oreskovic and Slovenian PM Miro Cerar held a brief meeting with the leaders of the Visegrad Group countries - Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

The Visegrad Group has the most doubts about the success of a joint action plan involving Turkey under which Turkey should stop the refugee influx into Europe, and it therefore calls for an alternative plan and insists the most on closing the Greek-Macedonian border.

PM Oreskovic said that he would not say that the cooperation between Croatia, Austria, Slovenia, Serbia and Macedonia on the Macedonian-Greek border was a Plan B, but that the focus was on Turkey and the Turkish-Greek border, where NATO, too, would be helping control the sea border.

It's a combination of both solutions, said Oreskovic.

Austria on Friday started implementing its decision to restrict migrant entry despite criticism from the EU. Under the decision, Austria will take in only 80 asylum-seekers daily, plus another 3,200 people who express a wish to seek asylum in Germany.

The European Commission has strongly criticised Austria over that decision, saying that it is contrary to European and international law.

Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann defended the decision upon arriving in Brussels for the summit. Asked if Austria would withdraw its decision if no European solution was reached, he did not give a straightforward answer.

Austria has done more than most EU member-countries. We have decided to take in 37,500 refugees this year and if all member-countries took in as many refugees compared to their total population, it would mean that the whole EU could accept more than two million people. We have done more than we should have and now it's enough, said Faymann.

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