Croatia active in joint efforts to handle migrant crisis, says interior minister

Croatia is participating in joint efforts in refugee profiling on the Greek-Macedonian border and the further transit of migrants as agreed, Interior Minister Vlaho Orepic said in Vienna on Wednesday where he attended a ministerial conference on the migrant crisis.

"At this moment, Croatia is responding to what is expected of it. We have suffcient capacities to accommodate migrants and, if necessary, we are willing to increase capacities. However, the emphasis isn't on that but on a common agreement which the EU has to reach very soon," Orepic told reporters.

Asked about the relations with Slovenia, he said the objective of today's conference was to define joint responsibility and, within it, individual responsibility. "In that context, I believe the cooperation with Slovenia will be fair."

He said the Vienna conference was a "step forward" towards a final agreement within the EU on the migrant crisis. He expressed hope that a meeting of interior and justice ministers in Brussels tomorrow would result in a more concrete agreement.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said the conference was "a clear signal that we want to reduce the flow of migrants. We have to do that."

Closer cooperation, coordination, agreement, and profiling are necessary on the Greek-Macedonian border, where the further transit of migrants will be decided. The migrants who pass identification and profiling will not be able to chose the state in which they will apply for asylum, Kurz said. The measures agreed envisage turning away migrants with fake identities from entering Macedonia. Economic migrants will not be received for now. Additional support and police will be sent to especially hit borders and cooperation with Greece remains very important.

All the measures to better coordinate and stop migrant flows to central Europe in a joint approach are aimed at ensuring stability and security in the countries on the Balkan route, Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said.

"We must stop the refugee flow now. This is question of the survival of the European Union," she said. Warning about the danger of nationalist policies in Europe, she said, "We can't go on like this. We need a clear decision on the European level."

The Vienna conference was attended by the interior and foreign ministers or their assistants from Austria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia.

Last update: Wed, 24/02/2016 - 20:07

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