kolinda grabar kitarović.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Tomislav PAVLEK / mm

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic attended a working breakfast in Munich on Saturday for the women participants in a security conference, her office said in a press release, adding that the breakfast focused on lessons learned through Croatia's experience in the European refugee crisis.

As the keynote speaker, Grabar-Kitarovic said that Europe was caught off guard, without a clear policy or coordinated approach, which resulted in Croatia's neighbours putting up wire fences along their borders with Croatia in an attempt to protect their borders.

Despite the humanism and openness shown initially, the limits in managing the migrant crisis soon became evident, she said, adding that in the context of global threats, climate change and economic circumstances, new migrant flow pressures could be expected in the years ahead.

Europe needs a common policy based on the European values of solidarity and inclusion and wider than the quota policy, the president said.

She said it was necessary to better control the European Union's external borders and that one must not allow this crisis to undermine the Schengen Area nor the values and freedoms won, notably freedom of movement.

Speaking of the role of women and children in migration and refugee policies, Grabar-Kitarovic said young men constituted a majority of the people who crossed the borders and expressed concern that women and children were left behind in war-torn areas. She said one must show solidarity and humanity in helping the people who fled conflict zones, and that one must not forget those most vulnerable left behind in Syria under bullets, hungry and ill.

It is necessary to focus on the root causes of migrant crises through diplomacy, development aid and defence from terrorism, and to work together to find a long term political solution for Syria and enable the Syrian people to return to their homes, Grabar-Kitarovic said.

In the afternoon, she is expected to meet with several presidents of the states within the Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea initiative and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto. Tonight, she will take part in a discussion as part of a Euro-Atlantic integration conference, which will bring together Presidents Borut Pahor of Slovenia and Gjorge Ivanov of Macedonia and Prime Ministers Milo Djukanovic of Montenegro and Giorgi Kvirikashvili of Georgia.

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