Croatia Picks Up On Brussels’ Recipe to Fight Refugee/Migrant Chaos


Vlaho Orepic Minister of Internal Affairs, Croatia Photo: Screenshot RTL TV 9 March 2016

Vlaho Orepic
Minister of Internal Affairs, Croatia
Photo: Screenshot RTL TV 9 March 2016

Last week from March 9, Croatia closed its borders to most refugees/migrants transiting to northern Europe through Croatia in a bid to close the so-called Balkan route, which starts in Turkey via boats to Greece then up to Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, Germany … used by hundreds of thousands of people seeking a new life in Europe.  Many genuine refugees among them but reportedly more illegal migrants. This move by Croatia to close borders means that only those seeking asylum immediately after crossing the border into Croatia are permitted through (and there are very few of those as most want to go North to more affluent countries) as well as emergency (humanitarian) cases needing medical treatment they cannot obtain in a country they’re already in (e.g. Serbia). Slovenia closed its borders at the same time as Croatia and so has Macedonia on the Greece side. Serbia has announced it will follow the lead of other countries on the route and close its borders. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has last week announced Germany would send away, deport, all those found to fail the asylum test and are confirmed to be among those seeking a better life rather than necessary protection. Certainly the “sending back” moves have already caught on like “a house on fire” – tens of thousands are already being sent back to Greece not only from Germany but also from other countries on the route, having Greece rightfully worried that its tourism industry will suffer a terrible blow because of the bottlenecks being created with refugees/migrants stuck in one place.

Nea Kavala tent camp Greece, near Macedonia border Photo: Screenshot HRT TV Croatia News 12 March 2016

Nea Kavala tent camp
Greece, near Macedonia border
Photo: Screenshot HRT TV Croatia News 12 March 2016

The moves to shut down the main route used by the vast amount of refugees/illegal migrants hoping to find asylum or better economic prospects in Northern Europe came barely a day after the EU and Turkey agreed to a proposal aimed at easing the crisis.

Idomeni camp Greece near Macedonia border 12 March 2016

Idomeni camp Greece
near Macedonia border
12 March 2016

Slovenia’s and Croatia’s officials have stated during the week that foreigners meeting the requirements to enter the country, those who want to claim asylum and migrants selected on a case-by-case basis on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with the rules of the Schengen zone would be accepted through. While Croatia is not yet a member country of the passport-free Schengen Zone it’s evident that it’s application to become one involves proving worthiness at these times of this overwhelming refugee crisis and this is done via closing the borders to contribute to this domino effect occurring within the Schengen Zone and designed to stop or seriously disrupt the flow of refugees/migrants into the EU.


Minister Vlaho Orepic Croatia AFP Photo

Minister Vlaho Orepic
AFP Photo

Apparently Europe has decided to start a new phase in resolving the refugee crisis. It was concluded that on the Schengen Zone borders the Schengen rules would be applied,” Croatian Interior Minister Vlaho Orepic told RTL commercial television 9 March 2016. “The border of Europe will be on the Macedonian-Greek border and we will respect the decisions that were made,” he said, while rejecting the notion that Croatian army should be sent to the border with Serbia as well. Minister Orepic was adamant that his police force can handle the crisis at the borders at this stage.
More than 1 million people have crossed the Aegean Sea to Greece since the start of 2015, many from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and most aiming to reach wealthy Germany and Scandinavia, causing deep divisions among EU members about how to deal with Europe’s worst migration crisis since World War II. More than 650,000 have transited across Croatia since mid-September 2015 and as the weather warms up the fears rise that the influx of refugees and illegal migrants may become so overwhelmingly huge that it will seriously and fundamentally threaten the lifestyle and security of Europe’s citizens.

Pushing to get into Slavonski Brod Croatia camp - January 2016

Pushing to get into
Slavonski Brod Croatia
camp – January 2016

The bottleneck currently ballooning in Greece at the border with Macedonia, in particular, of some 40,000 stuck at the Greek-Macedonian border, is already showing serious signs of unrest and low-level violence that could easily escalate. A transit camp at the border in Greece, for instance, designed to hold 2,000 people, Indomeni tent camp, is now busting with some 14,000 lying in mud and battling for a piece of bread. Macedonia said it would only grant entry to the number of refugees that will be allowed to transit through neighboring Serbia and further into Europe, hence only a few dozens have been trickling across from Greece to Macedonia per day during the past few days.

At Macedonian border with Greece 10 March 2016 Scuffles and violence as refugees and migrants try to push across borders AFP Photo

At Macedonian border with Greece
10 March 2016
Scuffles and violence as
refugees and migrants
try to push across borders
AFP Photo

At talks in Brussels on Monday 7 March, the EU agreed in principle to a Turkish proposal to take back all illegal refugees landing on the Greek islands and the price negotiated, or payment to Turkey is running into billions of euros. Newly arrived refugees in Greece in their thousands continue to head to Macedonia despite being confronted by a closed border and rain-soaked camps where conditions are squalid, human misery and unrest get larger by the hour.

Refugees and migrants near Macedonia border in Greece 12 March 2016 Photo: Getty Images

Refugees and migrants
near Macedonia border in Greece
12 March 2016
Photo: Getty Images

The actions being taken by Brussels (EU) suggest that it’s only, or mainly, concerned with the interests of its military circles particularly the Schengen Zone, not people, in desperate bids to save itself within the demographic and freedom of movement parameters it set itself decades ago and Croatia is most desirous of being counted in. Because of this, and Brussels’ inability to reach consensus between EU member countries with regards to sharing the burden of refugees from the Middle East etc., many have in recent months/year predicted the collapse of European Union as inevitable. Some say that it’s only a matter of time when the collapse will happen


Cui bono? To whose advantage?



Nicholas Bonnal of the French Boulevard Voltaire publication says that “the Austrian newspaper Info-Direkt shows that, according to a source of Viennese intelligence, smugglers of migrants crossing the Mediterranean to settle in Europe could be paid by the Americans…” Suggestions are afoot in this article that creating and organising chaos, such as the one occurring with the unsustainable influx of migrants and refugees into Europe, is a perfect example of political terrain for ruling by chaos. Only a handful of politicians would then rise above and rule and they are the ones with the knowhow in applying the principles of Neo-Machiavellianism.


Refugees and migrants wanting to pursue northern Europe destinations via the Balkan route stuck in Greece in squalor and misery AFP Photo

Refugees and migrants wanting
to pursue northern Europe destinations
via the Balkan route
stuck in Greece in squalor and misery
AFP Photo

Whatever the realistically based theories and/or political conspiracy theories regarding the European refugee/migrant crisis exist one thing remains blatantly obvious: people are suffering. And it’s not just one side that’s suffering. People are suffering on both sides: those fleeing into Europe (the refugees/migrants) and the European people who largely fret that their standard of living will violently be reduced to unwanted levels as hundreds of thousands of people needing sustenance and care from the Middle East, North Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan…approach.

European Union is truly stuck between a rock and a hard place – the natural instinct is to assist and help the needy and the political responsibility of those in power is to protect the lifestyle of those who elected them into power! The two cannot be reconciled without a major shift in attempts to address and solve this seemingly chaos feeding impasse.


Closed Balkan Route March 2016 Photo: DW

Closed Balkan Route March 2016
Photo: DW

Brussels has the capacity to address the crisis to an end that would not mean the collapse of the EU and certainly the latest move to close borders (reportedly criticised by Germany’s Angela Merkel who has otherwise been unsuccessful in the past months to convince EU states to share the refugee load) and negotiate with Turkey to take back the illegal migrants and to keep refugees there as much as possible for a rather hefty payment of billions of euros seems to suggest that the EU is beginning to exert some strong directional force with view to “saving” the EU from crumbling under the pressure. The challenge posed by the refugees and migrants to the EU could, therefore, serve as a positive impetus for Europe to catch up on some long-neglected internal homework like bolstering controls on its external borders, deepening political integration between its member states/kicking off with a greater political unity of sorts, and taking serious moves toward common foreign and security policies. If voters (the people of EU) see these moves as successfully handled then those steps could breathe new life into the European Union idea, strengthen it to the point of prolonging its stable existence as a true union and even spur growth; and true, refugees capable of working could positively contribute particularly in a widened entrepreneurial sense. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. My friend just returned from Indomeni – his reports about the humanitarian conditions there were harrowing. I hope, too, that this crisis forces the Union members into better cooperation with each other.
    As far as the voters go, Angela Merkel faces three regional elections in Germany today, which are regarded as potentially decisive for her career.

    • It’ll be interesting to see the results of the elections, Christoph – I somehow think she’ll be OK as her strength of resolve is much greater than the opponents’ who seem to be loud but no real substance as to solutions. It’s awful and I can only barely imagine what it must have been for your friend to see all that misery first hand.

  2. Currently a real problem that must be handled with the care of the refugees first and foremost.Unscrupulous politicians will be happy to use scaremongering tactics to gain votes by saying this crisis will flood our countries with bombers. But we can’t ignore the pain of the real refugees. As long as they are looked after then maybe the numbers of economic migrants won’t seem so bad.
    xxx Massive Hugs Ina xxx

    • Agreed David, somehow there must be solution for real refugees and they too must meet EU half-way so to speak, not insist on asylum in country of their choice but accept asylum in where they can get as long as it’s safe.

  3. Another fine post, Ina, on this grim, serious problem
    for which there seems to be no real solution, not in the immediate future at any rate,

    Best always to You


  4. In the “Washington Post” yesterday (3/12/16), there was an article about a migrant/refugee camp in Jordan. It was built to accommodate 100,000 people, however, it’s housing a fraction of that number.
    News reports about the migrant crisis come and go here in the US.

  5. The crisis was worsened by Merkel and her open door policy. It put people at risk trying to brave it to Germany, and also put Germany’s and the EU’s security at risk. Her policy was more about her ‘feel good’ than making the situation on the ground better for the refugees. Far more people could have benefited and more equitably had the Merkel and the EU used a more rationale policy – example: money and people could have been allocated to improve refugee camps, making them safer, more sanitary and more livable for people to ride out the war. Instead she put people’s lives and Europe’s security at risk. If she and the EU really wanted them in Europe a far more humane evacuation and resettlement could have been arranged. What a mess.

    • It seems German people are acting on their view of her policy, Sunman – much ground lost by Merkel’s party in yesterdays elections in the three regions but still even if her party is largest the criticisms and rejections of her ideas will spread – one simply cannot invite hordes of people without properly preparing for that and that preparation should include the taxpayers …

  6. Northampton is a town of 212,000. The British Government, planning to accept more refugees, requested Northampton to take fifty families over five years. The council has refused, and local people are petitioning it to reconsider.

    • fifty families is a relatively small number for that size of city I think, can’t think of why the council refuses since the British gov has most likely confirmed that the families are of refugee or asylum status (?)

  7. Buna ziua Ina !
    Felicitari pentru articol ! 🙂
    Felicitari pentru munca de voluntariat intreprinsa pentru promovarea si cultivarea in lume a idealurilor de libertate si independenta ale poporului croat cat si pentru medaliile primite ca rasplata a muncii depuse de-a lungul timpului in cauza ! 🙂
    Dupa parerea mea, toate actiunile politice ale liderilor lumii ar trebui concentrate spre inlaturarea cauzelor care au generat migratia a milioane de oameni din alele tari ale lumii in care RAZBOIUL face si victime colaterale ! 🙁
    Din pacate, unii lideri ai lumii in loc sa vina cu solutii pragmatice de incetarea a conflictelor, din interese geostrategice egoiste,sustin cu logistica aducatoare de moarte si producatoare a MIGRATIEI populatiei civile,
    partile aflate in conflict de putere si dominatie interna ! 🙁
    O saptamana cu liniste si pace ! 🙂
    Cu stima si respect,
    Aliosa ( ROMANIA ) .

    • TRANSLATION OF COMMENT BY ALIOSA: Congratulations for your article! 🙂
      Congratulations on volunteer work undertaken for the promotion and cultivation in the world the ideals of freedom and independence of the Croatian people and for receiving medals as a reward for the work done over the years in question! 🙂 In my opinion, all political actions of world leaders should focus on removing the causes that generated the migration of millions from countries of the world in which war happened and collateral damage done! 🙁
      Unfortunately, some world leaders instead of coming up with pragmatic solutions for the cessation of conflicts, from selfish geostrategic interests, argue with the deadly logistics and manufacturing migration civilian population,
      Power conflicting parties and international domination! 🙁 A week of peace and quiet! 🙂 With esteem and respect, Aliosa (ROMANIA).
      REPLY: Well put Aliosa, it certainly seems that it is in some political interest to create this terrible chaos and suffering with people fleeing instead of stopping the conflict in their countries. Such tragedy. Thank you and great regards to you too

  8. Veronika says:

    These are not refugees, they are economic migrants, if that.
    Why hasn’t Saudi Arabia taken in any? How many more have other Islamic countries taken in? After hundreds of years of fighting back barbaric invasions, the now dithering and self-loathing ‘leaders’ of Europe today are not just bringing them in, but rolling out the red carpet for them! People thought the mass sex assaults in Koln, Germany on NYE was a problem…. The Islamification of places like Malmo, Sweden….. Ha! Europe ain’t seen nothing yet. You cannot assimilate cultures who do not wish to assimilate, but bring their barbaric cultural practises to what was once a Judeo-Christian Europe. Tom Sunic sums it up nicely in this piece: “Multiculturalism is a myth that is linked to boundless economic growth, and thus the unlimited influx of migrants. Non-European migrants now know that they can live safely only in self-loathing Europe.”

    • If one could see a decent future for all in all this things would not be as bad, Veronika but the situation is that European countries are riddled with their own problems of poverty, homelessness…ethnic minority troubles, multiculturalism…I mainly see vio9lence, despair and unhappiness on all sides if order is not imposed

  9. Reblogged this on IdealisticRebel's Daily View of Favorites.

  10. Hi Ina,

    I’m hoping to go to Croatia for my honeymoon in late August — in your opinion do you think this is wise given the migrant crisis and how it might affect the Balkan region? Please advise; thanks!

    • You’ll have the best time ever in Croatia, Leslie. The migrant crisis does not affect life in the way that it stops it, very much contained to processing those that arrive and mainly continental part – north-east north west but still there as well life goes on nicely. Congratulations of your coming marriage.

  11. Really useful post for me as this is a developing story and Turkey will not budge on their stance with more joining the block borders campaign and parties of anti-immigration springing up to take main line votes l see the Schengen Agreement in its present form dead in the water – Also and sorry to say read daily of new l call almost concentration camps springing up and very soon UN will turn tail and to save face stop all this migration into Europe .. Ian short link here to your brilliant post thanks

  12. Schengen cannot work unless EU shifts efforts into Greece, not Turkey … UN hopeless as always I think

  13. Totally agree can you see EU doing anything at all except look after their own interests and making sure the fees for being part of a divided Europe keep coming in .. Ian

  14. Spot on

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