ranko ostojić.jpg
Photograph: HINA / mm

Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic said at the Opatovac reception centre, eastern Croatia on Monday that Croatia had no other choice but to send refugees and migrants arriving from Serbia on to Slovenia and the Schengen area, reiterating that the key to the refugee crisis was in Greece, which should be the first to control the influx of refugees and migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

"If someone wants to decide that Croatia should be a wall, no problem, but such a decision should be made at the EU level. In that case we would admit that Greece is not fit to be a member of the Schengen area nor is it able to comply with EU rules," Ostojic told a press conference, adding that this had also been demanded by Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic.

"They should say that a wall will be built on the Croatian-Serbian border. But you can be sure that wire fences have never proved effective," he said.

Ostojic said that refugees and migrants were being transported to the border with Slovenia, dismissing claims that Croatia was not in control of the situation. "Last night's situation has been resolved. The people have been offered asylum," he said, adding that six buses that had been turned back at the Macelj border crossing with Slovenia had been redirected to the Lupinjak border crossing and as many buses that should have gone to Mursko Sredisce had been rerouted to Bukovje where they entered Slovenia.

Recalling that the Slovenians had refused to accept a train with 1,795 people in Cakovec, Ostojic said that of that number 500 people entered Slovenia at 10am.

He confirmed that a group of refugees and migrants had attempted to enter Croatia at Bajakovo on the border with Serbia, adding that they had been stopped and sent back to the border crossing at Bapska.

Asked to comment on the construction of a reception centre at Sid in Serbia, Ostojic said he had first heard news of a reception centre being built there "33 days ago".  "It's time it finally started operating so that people won't have to stand in the rain and can be received in an organised fashion."

Ostojic said that the winter transit centre in Slavonski Brod, 200 kilometres east of Zagreb, would start operating as soon as cabins for the accommodation of refugees and migrants were assembled. He added that the cabins would be delivered on Friday.

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