Pusic says EU, Turkey must agree on cooperation in refugee crisis

At meetings of its ministers of the interior and of the European Council next week, the European Union will try to find a way to cooperate efficiently with Turkey and help it cope with numerous refugees arriving there, thus halting the current refugee wave that has hit Europe, Croatian Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic said in an interview on Croatian Television on Sunday.

"The EU must reach agreement at meetings to be held next week... on how to find an efficient way to cooperate with Turkey, help it stop this wave and use the coming winter to... stop the fighting in Syria," Pusic said, adding that all EU member-states were now focusing on reaching an agreement with Turkey, from where most refugees are coming.

Speaking about refugees who have been arriving in Croatia in large numbers in recent days, Pusic said that Croatia had shown that coping with refugees in difficult circumstances could be done "humanely and with respect."

However, as long as they were coming in thousands, they could be registered, but when they started arriving in dozens of thousands, that was no longer possible either administratively or technically, she said.

Of the 26,000 people who have entered Croatia since Wednesday, only one woman with children has applied for asylum in Croatia, all the others want to continue their journey and the final destination for most of them is Germany, she repeated.

Asked if she considered the failure to register the refugees and their illegal entry problematic, Pusic said that it was not a crime, but a result of an extraordinary, dramatic situation.

"This is not a normal situation when you normally control entries and departures, this is a crisis situation."

Most of the 26,000 migrants who have entered Croatia have already left the country and they are passing in the same way through Greece, Hungary and Slovenia, which are part of the Schengen area of passport-free travel, Pusic said, adding that Germany, too, had for some time suspended the Schengen regime because it was unable to cope with such a huge influx of refugees.

She said that she had discussed the refugee crisis with a number of senior foreign officials and that all of them had commended Croatia for its conduct.

Commenting on criticisms from Hungary, Pusic said that she did not see any reason for it, noting that she believed that Hungarian authorities had treated refugees inappropriately but that they later allowed their passage through their territory.

"Hungary is doing the same thing (as Croatia) because it simply lacks the capacity to register those people and is taking them through corridors to the border with Austria."

Asked what would happen if Hungary physically closed the border with Croatia, Pusic said that she believed that the refugee crisis would start abating next week, once agreement was reached with Turkey.

Last update: Thu, 05/11/2015 - 18:43
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