ranko ostojic migranti slavonski brod.jpg
Photograph: HINA / mm

Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic, in response to a formal caution from the European Commission due to Croatia's failure to register migrants in the EURODAC system as required by the Dublin Regulation, said on Thursday that Croatia had good reason why it was not doing so and that this regulation was created "for some other circumstances."

"The Dublin Regulation was created for another time and other circumstances. The fact that almost half a million people have passed through Croatia and more than likely that just as many passed through Hungary, certainly does not facilitate the implementation of the Dublin Regulation in its current form," Ostojic told a press conference in the winter refugee transit centre in Slavonski Brod and recalled that the current regulation determines that everyone who entered the European Union during the refugee crisis but has not been granted asylum will be returned to the country where they were first registered in EURODAC.

Ostojic confirmed that Croatia had entered data of those refugees who entered the country in the first 48 hours of the current refugee crisis and that after that it continued with registration according to the same standards but that it no longer entered that data into EURODAC. Data for 4,000 people was entered into ERUODAC which was the number that Croatia at that time could have catered for, he said.

The regulation requires refugees to be registered in the first country of the European Union they enter and it is that country that they will be returned to if they are not granted asylum. Based on a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that a refugee had their rights violated and had been treated inhumanely by Greece, this country has been exempted from the Dublin Regulation and asylum seekers cannot be returned there.

"It is illogical to expect the Dublin regulation to be adhered to when even Germany has requested that it be treated differently. The agreement can be implemented if all of the EU agrees that applications for asylum may be lodged in any member state, but that hasn't occurred yet," Ostojic said.

The caution to Croatia is not a major problem because we have good reasons for our behaviour, he said. "Croatia cannot be considered to be the first country of entry to the EU and as such be the place where migrants will be returned to. All that because we are adhering to international conventions and treating migrants with full dignity," said Ostojic. Most migrants are entering the EU in Greece and now they are starting to do so in Bulgaria.

The European Commission decided on Thursday to send letters of formal notice to Croatia, Greece and Italy for failing to fully transpose and implement the common European asylum system. Ostojic believes that Hungary and possibly Bulgaria will also be cautioned.

Responding to reporters, Ostojic said that he agreed with a statement by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic during her visit to Slovakia on Wednesday when she said that she believed the Dublin Regulation was "dead."

Only about twenty people have requested asylum in Croatia while all the rest wish to continue their way to western Europe . Five percent have expressed their wish to remain in Austria while the others are set to reach Germany, he said.

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