Croatia: Normality Not Possible On Humanitarian Catastrophe Skid Row

Screenshot Euronews 23 October 2015 At the Border Between Croatia and Serbia

Screenshot Euronews 23 October 2015
At the Border Between
Croatia and Serbia

 

The flood of people shows no sign of slowing even though cold, wet and miserable weather conditions have set in. Over 250,000 refugees and migrants have passed through Croatia in past six weeks with the increasing likelihood and fear that transfer to other countries such a Slovenia to assist them in reaching their desired destination in Western Europe will not be possible. Hence, temporary accommodation places are being opened in Croatia, the latest being in Slavonski Brod (a disused building in past used for administration for INA company will be fixed quickly)  to house some 5,000, and more and more countries painfully nursing the fear that they will be left with thousands of needy people and scanty resources.

The Humanitarian catastrophe is suffocating the very breath of all and normal living is fast becoming something that was.

The refugee and migrant crisis has centered on Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia in recent days as that route to Austria, Germany, Denmark, Sweden …gives rise to all sorts of touching stories of human compassion but also of those of fear of the unknown and what that unknown may do to the standard of life Europeans have been used to and have not been asked if they wish to share or lower.

Crossing Into Croatia From Serbia 24 October 2015 Photo: Zeljko Lukunic/Pixsell

Crossing Into Croatia From Serbia
24 October 2015
Photo: Zeljko Lukunic/Pixsell

Last week German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced that her government will quickly send back all those arriving at its borders who are not genuine refugees but found to be people looking for a better life – illegal migrants. Reportedly some 190,000 already in Germany for some time have been identified as those to be deported, said Croatian HRT TV news from Friday 23 October. This seems to have poured deeper panic among those fleeing Middle East through Croatia and surrounding countries as they show urgency and impatience to reach their desired destination in Western Europe (before doors close?). So we come across desperate night transfers, walking across rivers in the cold of the night to reach Slovenia, the next stop on route to Austria, toppling fences and barriers – pushing and trampling on each other … Desperation on the rise.

It is clear by now that not everyone who is crossing European (or any other for that matter) is a refugee; many are migrants coming for other reasons than fleeing from persecution. Refugees are people who have been forced out of their home country against their will. The word “migrant” can mean someone who moves to a foreign country voluntarily, or it can be used as a broader umbrella term that includes refugees as well as voluntary migrants. For example, a Syrian man fleeing war is a refugee, whereas a Cameroonian man seeking economic opportunity is a migrant. Whether someone is considered a refugee or a migrant effects what sorts of legal rights they have: Refugees can apply for asylum and are protected by international and domestic law, for example, while economic migrants cannot. There is no such thing as an “illegal asylum-seeker” — refugees can seek asylum in another country without obtaining a visa or resettlement authorization first. Economic migrants, by contrast, are usually required to have a visa or other form of work authorization in order to immigrate legally.

Walking to Brezice, Slovenia, From Croatia 23 October 2015 Photo: Reuters/Pixsell

Walking to Brezice, Slovenia,
From Croatia 23 October 2015
Photo: Reuters/Pixsell

Distinguishing between the two becomes political, especially in a crisis like the one battering the life and the peaceful spirit of Europe. Calling a group of people “refugees” also acknowledges that such people are legitimately deserving of shelter and care, whereas calling them “migrants” can more often than not result in accusing them of arriving for economic reasons, and perhaps even lying about their asylum claims in order to exploit the “Western” entitlement programs, which, by the way the “Western” citizens have earned through hard work, through paying taxes and generally having had good economic and other governance throughout the past decades. Such stands are often called anti-immigration even in the face of the fact that if a “Westerner” wanted to go, work and live in an another Western country as his own renders him/her unemployed and destitute, he/she must obtain a proper visa, which is more often than not impossible to obtain.
In recent months particularly, the UNHCR has been asking that the people crossing the Mediterranean or coming to Europe via other routes such as the one across Greece be labelled ‘refugees and migrants.’ This stance appears to be a reasonable compromise in the efforts to deal with madness that has hit an unprepared Europe (World), but is also unsettling because it insists that refugees and migrants are fundamentally (as in UN protection entitlements) different from each other.
UNHCR: “…protecting refugees was made the core mandate of the UN refugee agency, which was set up to look after refugees, specifically those waiting to return home at the end of World War II.
The 1951 Refugee Convention spells out that a refugee is someone who ‘owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.’
Since then, UNHCR has offered protection and assistance to tens of millions of refugees, finding durable solutions for many of them. Global migration patterns have become increasingly complex in modern times, involving not just refugees, but also millions of economic migrants. But refugees and migrants, even if they often travel in the same way, are fundamentally different, and for that reason are treated very differently under modern international law.
Migrants, especially economic migrants, choose to move in order to improve the future prospects of themselves and their families. Refugees have to move if they are to save their lives or preserve their freedom. They have no protection from their own state – indeed it is often their own government that is threatening to persecute them. If other countries do not let them in, and do not help them once they are in, then they may be condemning them to death – or to an intolerable life in the shadows, without sustenance and without rights.

Refugees rushing across green-belts from Croatia into Slovenia 23 October 2015

Refugees rushing across green-belts
from Croatia into Slovenia
23 October 2015

The UNHCR ‘two kinds of people’ policy is, some say, troubling on many levels. “First of all, it undermines the humanitarian principles that should guide our response to emergencies. When people drown at sea or suffocate in lorries, our first question should not be ‘so, which kind were they, refugees or migrants?’ Narratives about ‘two kinds of people,’ are, paradoxically, a central ingredient in many of the conflicts that thousands are forced to flee,” writes Jørgen Carling, Research Professor at Peace Research Institute Oslo.
The ‘two kinds of people’ argument is further undermined by the drawn-out trajectories of many current migrants. A Nigerian arriving in Italy might have left Nigeria for reasons other than a fear of persecution, but ended up fleeing extreme danger in Libya. Conversely, a Syrian might have crossed into Jordan and found safety from the war, but been prompted by the bleak prospects of indeterminate camp life to make the onward journey to Europe. Regardless of the legal status that each one obtains in Europe, they are both migrants who have made difficult decisions, who deserve our compassion, and whose rights need to be ensured”.

 

Justifiably, many will reply that rights of refugees and migrants cannot and should not be ensured at the expense or neglect of other people’s rights. Indeed, the domestic population of countries affected by this refugee and migration crisis finds itself pondering and agonising on this very truth.

 

Slovenian policemen escort a group of migrants from a train towards a camp in Sentilj, Slovenia, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015. Thousands of people are trying to reach central and northern Europe via the Balkans but often have to wait for days in mud and rain at the Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian borders. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

Slovenian policemen escort a group of migrants from a train arriving from Croatia towards a camp in Sentilj, Slovenia, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015.  (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

This crisis is about millions of people who have been forced from their countries, or have made decisions to flee abject poverty, and need a new country to call home even though many do exclaim they want to return to their country once the war in their homeland stops. Addressing the crisis will require resettling the people on the run. Countries that seem capable of absorbing them, wealth-wise, are experiencing increasing unrest from their own citizens as political anxieties about large-scale immigration that come with the prospect of having to absorb so many cultural and religious strangers keep rising.
For those of who live in those countries, addressing the crisis and solving it means, at this stage, accepting that their communities will look and feel different from how they have in the past. It requires enormous sacrifice for many as they attempt adjusting their vision of how their future communities will look like and what changes will need to be made for a peaceful and respectful coexistence. This is a major “ask” of every government where floods of refugees or migrants are capturing the attention of media and authorities and yet it seems not many governments are addressing that question as equally deserving as dealing with the refugees and migrants.
There is an emergency European Union summit organized for Sunday 25 October and if it fails to produce a solution to the crisis that is acceptable particularly to the European citizens the coming weeks and months will see another crisis looming: EU states affected will likely start acting on their own with the primary aim to protect their own citizens and without a plan for expansion of refugee intake program. It’s been weeks since EU had delivered a decision to distribute refugees according to set quotas among different member states but this plan, encountering opposition in several countries, has failed to launch.

Refugees and migrants Dobova, Slovenia, at Croatian border 22 October 2015 Phopto: Reuters

Refugees and migrants
Dobova, Slovenia, at Croatian border
22 October 2015
Phopto: Reuters

According to Xinhuanet news a draft for the EU emergency summit for Sunday 25 October the countries on the so-called Balkan migratory route (which includes Croatia) would no longer be allowed to transport refugees to neighboring borders without prior agreement with their neighbours. Such a motion is likely to be defeated but if it’s not it will cause enormous unrest in Europe and lead to life-threatening, highly-charged with anger and hatred instability for all: refugees, migrants as well as the domestic population. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Diplomatic Quarrels Surge As Refugee Influx Into Croatia Grows Unbearably

Dumped in "nowhere in the dark of night" by Serbia near Croatian border at Strosinci Marko Drobnjakovic / Keystone

Dumped in “nowhere in
the dark of night” by Serbia
near Croatian border at Strosinci
Marko Drobnjakovic / Keystone

According to Wall Street Journal (which is also the figure given by Croatian HRT TV news) 67,000 refugees and illegal migrants have come into Croatia over the past 10 days. Confusion, rather ugly and unnecessary recriminations and diplomatic spats between Serbia, Croatia and Hungary gripped the nations throughout the past week and Croatian authorities struggled to keep up with the massive influx, constant flow of refugees crossing from Serbia.

Croatia at first welcomed the migrants, thinking they would transit through to Slovenia, Austria and then Germany. But Slovenia refused to let the people pass, leaving Croatia responsible for tens of thousands of people. The government in Zagreb then accused Serbia of shunting the refugees into its territory and closed the border pass near Tovarnik which led to a standstill for the cargo trucks crossing into and out of Serbia. Hungary had shut itself from Serbia by building a high fence.

Most refugees reaching Croatia from Serbia were and are given temporary shelter in a recently built refugee reception centre in the village of Opatovac near the Serbian border, not far from Tovarnik. Then they are usually taken on buses and trains to three border crossings with Hungary.

Strosinci Croatia Saturday 26 September 2015

Strosinci Croatia
Saturday 26 September 2015

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban said earlier this week his government would continue erecting fences on its borders with fellow European Union member states Romania and Croatia that are outside Europe’s document-free Schengen travel zone; they have already completed the fence between Hungary and Serbia, which in fact triggered the massive influx into Croatia.

Leaflet given to refugees while in Serbia. At a border crossing near Bapska, Croatia, volunteers distributed fliers telling refugees they were in Serbia and would get passage to Austria. Photo: Max J. Rosenthal

Leaflet given to refugees
while in Serbia.
At a border crossing near Bapska, Croatia,
volunteers distributed fliers
telling refugees they were in Serbia
and would get passage to Austria.
Photo: Max J. Rosenthal

Relations between Croatia and Serbia heated up to almost the 1990 level when Croatia announced it would secede from communist Yugoslavia and Serbia started “sharpening its knives to attack Croatia” in the event that Croatian people actually seceded from Yugoslavia. However, after an emergency meeting Friday (25 September 2015) night, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic told Croatian state TV that Serbia will “absolutely” lift its embargo on Croatian goods. Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic said he lifted the blockade, reopened the border crossings at Bajakovo and Tovarnik, but that he may reinstate the blockade again if Serbia keeps on busing migrants to the Croatian border instead of sending at least some of them up north to the border with Hungary. Croatian government believes that Serbia has reached a secret deal with Hungary over refugees and is deliberately sending them towards Croatia after Hungary sealed its borders in mid-September. And I personally wouldn’t put such a dirty trick past Serbia, either!

A child jumps over a ditch as people wait in order to clear a police line after entering Croatia from Serbia in Strosinci, Croatia, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. Conciliation replaced confrontation among European nations which have clashed over their response to a wave of migration, but confusion faced many asylum-seekers streaming into Croatia on Saturday in hopes of chasing a new future in Western Europe. Photo: MARKO DROBNJAKOVIC — AP Photo

A child jumps over a ditch
as people wait in order to
clear a police line after entering Croatia
from Serbia in Strosinci, Croatia,
Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015.
Conciliation replaced confrontation among
European nations which have clashed
over their response to a wave of migration,
but confusion faced many asylum-seekers
streaming into Croatia on Saturday
in hopes of chasing a new future
in Western Europe.
Photo: MARKO DROBNJAKOVIC — AP Photo

Cooperation replaced confrontation Saturday among European nations as thousands of asylum-seekers streamed into Croatia in hopes of creating a new future in Western Europe. At least 10,000 arrived on Friday alone, and Croatian authorities struggled to keep up with the influx of those fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Sent here from Belgrade, Serbia migrants found themselves not knowing where they were in the wilderness near Strosinci, Croatia Photo: REUTERS/Antonio Bronic

Sent here from Belgrade, Serbia
migrants found themselves
not knowing where they were
in the wilderness near Strosinci, Croatia
Photo: REUTERS/Antonio Bronic

At one tiny border crossing point, Croatian police said thousands were abandoned at a remote crossing after Serb authorities bused them to a point near the village of Strosinci and left.
Unclear where they were, the migrants tried to cross into Croatia, but got lost in the nearby cornfields. Croatian police found them, and called in buses to take the travelers to the nearby transit camp at Opatovac, but individual families were separated in the chaos.

This new crossing at Erdut through the village of Strosinci into Croatia from Serbia has emerged during the night between Friday 25 September and Saturday 26th. Serbia’s buses filled with refugees were driven to the nearby stretch of forests, fields throughout the night and refugees dumped there in the dark of the night to find their way across the fields and forests into Croatia. The refugees slept in the cold fields and were evacuated by Croatian authorities as it was feared that the heavy rainfall that occurred in the night might have dislodged the landmines in the forest still there from the war, left by Serbs, posing a real threat to refugees’ lives.

Escorted by Croatian police from forests and fields into Strosinci, Croatis Saturday 26 September 2015

Escorted by Croatian police
from forests and fields
into Strosinci, Croatis
Saturday 26 September 2015

In unusually blunt but perhaps necessarily decisive language, Croatia’s President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović had during the week criticised on Croatian Nova TV Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and just fell short of accusing Merkel of causing “chaos” in Europe.
Mrs Merkel called them, and now she’s pulled the handbrake by saying Germany cannot absorb all these economic migrants,” Grabar-Kitarovic told Croatian television.  “She makes out as if she wasn’t aware that pulling the handbrake when so many cars were on the road would cause chaos. This needs to be resolved now.”
As one would expect there were those who supported this commentary and opinion regarding Merkel’s actions in this refugee crisis expressed by Croatia’s president Grabar-Kitarovic and, of course, there were those who criticised Grabar-Kitarovic, saying she had insulted the German Chancellor. Croatia’s Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic was the first in Croatia to characterise President Grabar-Kitarovic’s assessment of Merkel’s actions as insulting to Merkel. But one wouldn’t expect much better from a Prime Minister who is struggling to keep afloat amid the shockingly damaging performance to the Croatian economy by his government in this per-elections period.

Angela Merkel and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

Angela Merkel and
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic

The fact is that while Greece, Serbia, Hungary, Macedonia were splitting at the seams, paralysed in attempts to cope with the unbearably large numbers of refugees trying to reach the richer EU countries such as Germany, Sweden, Netherlands…Angela Markel kept encouraging the refugees on to take the perilous journey by saying they are all welcome in Germany! Indeed Merkel’s “calls” to the refugee had caused Hungary’s Victor Orban to express harsh words against Merkel and Germany this last week as well as before. Extraordinary scenes played out at an emergency European Union (EU) summit in Belgium on 23 September after the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, criticised Germany’s “invitation” to migrants and warned the crisis had only just began.

Viktor Orban

Viktor Orban

The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban then accused Germany of “moral imperialism”. French president Francois Hollande responded by telling Orban he should “respect European values” or leave while Slovakia reaffirmed its commitment to defy forced migration quotas.

 

 

The European Council president Donald Tusk in a thinly veiled attack on the German chancellor Angela Merkel said: “It is likely that more refugees will flow towards Europe. Especially as almost all of them feel invited to Europe,” referring to Merkel’s promise to offer asylum to any Syrian this August, no matter how many safe countries they pass through, and regardless of whether or not they come from a dangerous region.

Donald Tusk

Donald Tusk

The most urgent question we should ask ourselves tonight is how to regain control of our external borders… Otherwise it doesn’t make any sense to even speak about common migration policy. What is at stake is also the future of Schengen, the sense of order in Europe and the common European spirit.”
After “inviting” tens of millions of people into Europe last month, Germany was quickly overwhelmed, closed its boarder and on 22 September forced through a policy to resettle the migrants in other EU member states against their will. Viktor Orban directed his anger at Angela Merkel. “The most important thing is that there should be no moral imperialism … Hungary should have the right to control the impact of a mass migration. The Hungarian people don’t want this,” he said.
Orban followed with an unexpected threat, that unless other EU nations started controlling their borders, Hungary would set up a corridor “through which the refugees or migrants can go to Austria or Germany.”
France’s François Hollande told Mr Orban that if he did not like it, his country should leave the EU: “States that don’t respect European values should ask if they belong within the EU,” he said.
The Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico repeated his promise to break EU law and refuse to bow to the German “diktat,” by turning away the 800 migrants who will be sent to his nation. “Slovakia is not going to respect mandatory quotas,” he said.

Refugees entering Strosinci, Croatia, Satrurday 26 September 2015

Refugees entering Strosinci,
Croatia, Saturday 26 September 2015

While In New York, at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit since Friday 25 September the Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic told Croatian TV news that the Croatian decisions regarding any border closures would be made in collaboration with the EU, that Croatia must show solidarity and not enter into quarrels with the neighbours (as Prime Minister Milanovic has with Serbia and Hungary) and instead of closing border crossings she sought stricter controls at the border.
We need to keep the official border crossings open and close the corn fields, forests, farm fields where the refugees and migrants cross illegally,” Grabar-Kitarovic said to HRT TV news Saturday 26 September from New York. “So, everything we do needs to be done with cooperation and agreement with the EU and in compliance with that which has already been agreed upon – to protect the external borders, primarily between Turkey and Greece, and I would also continue insisting that Croatia receives assistance in controlling the border between Serbia and Croatia.”

 

Miro Cerar

Miro Cerar

Slovenia’s Prime Minister Miro Cerar said at the UN summit that his country “together with other European countries has intensified the activities in resolving the current migration crisis in Europe. The main principles of our action are based on humanity and solidarity but also security. We should pool our efforts in combating illegal migration and suppressing the trafficking of migrants and human beings.”
Let’s trust the coming weeks will bring more visible cooperation on the global level, steered by the UN, to help solve this EU refugee and illegal migrant crisis or at least bring some order in the movement of refugees, otherwise increased unrest on the streets of affected EU countries, calling for greater input by the people in decisions made, will be the likely scenario. Perhaps that is exactly what is needed as more and more we are faced with the politicians making decisions that seriously affect people’s lives without reference to the people. This crisis has the potential of triggering changes to the EU map, to UN’s global role and to reinvigorate the long-forgotten grass root role in the “Western” democratic processes and decisions generally. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia Caught in EU Refugee Bedlam

Refugees stream into Croatia Saturday 19 September 2015 Photo: Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

Refugees stream into Croatia
Saturday 19 September 2015
Photo: Marko Mrkonjic/Pixsell

According to Croatian HRT TV news, Saturday 19 September evening edition, 21 000 refugees have entered Croatia from Serbia since Wednesday. The refugees, often referred to as the migrants, mostly from poor or war-torn countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, have streamed into Croatia since Wednesday, after Hungary blocked what had been the main route with a metal and razor-wire fence and riot police at its border with Serbia. Serbian authorities had then steered them and assisted them to Croatia’s borders and after Croatia closed its border with Serbia during the week, the refugees found alternative routes: they walked into Croatia through forests, corn and farm fields.

Crossing the border to Croatia across farms and cornfields

Crossing the border to Croatia
across farms and cornfields

Croatia’s prime minister, Zoran Milanovic wants to redirect the refugees flowing into his country to Hungary and Slovenia. He says Croatia can no longer receive refugees. However, the Hungarian government has, during the past couple of days, raised a barbed-wire fence along some 41 kilometer land border between it and Croatia (the rest of the border is a river) to keep the refugees out. Croatia has already transferred to the Hungarian border some 4,000 refugees and a couple of thousand to the Slovenian border. Both Hungary and Slovenia are resisting receiving the refugees and keep pounding vitriolic comments against Croatia.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanoviuc inspects a refugee food and first aid tent

Croatian Prime Minister
Zoran Milanoviuc inspects
a refugee food and first aid tent

After suddenly finding itself in the path of Europe’s biggest tide of migrants for decades, Croatia said on Friday it could no longer offer them refuge and would wave them on, challenging the EU to find a policy to receive them.
We cannot register and accommodate these people any longer,” Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic told a news conference in the capital Zagreb.

“They will get food, water and medical help, and then they can move on. The European Union must know that Croatia will not become a migrant ‘hotspot’. We have hearts, but we also have heads.”

The arrival of 21,000 since Wednesday morning, many crossing fields and some dodging police, has proved too much for Croatia. It cannot sustain the burden economically or facilities wise.

 

The refugee crisis has left the EU scrambling for an effective response. Hungary has begun threatening Croatia that it will not recommend it becomes a Schengen area member state since it cannot contain its borders or offer aid to the influx of refugees. This criticism regarding humanitarianism comes from a country that just built 4-meter fences along its borders and chased off the refugees with tear gas and other types of violence as well as still sending bus loads to the Austrian border!

Police assist refugees in Croatia

Police assist refugees in Croatia

With tempers clearly fraying, anything could happen in EU. Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic on Friday 18 September talked on the telephone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the two agreed that the problem of the current migrant wave had to be solved on the EU’s external borders.

Such a scenario is actually alarming given that the refugees clearly do not want to remain at EU’s external borders – Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, Croatia, Italy…so one wonders what Merkel and Milanovic meant by solving the problem on the EU’s external borders? Would force need to be used?

Refugees in Tovarnik, Croatia waiting in line for food

Refugees in Tovarnik, Croatia
waiting in line for food

Italy and Greece say they cannot cope with migrants coming by sea who, under the EU’s Dublin system, should be given shelter and potentially asylum in the first EU state they enter. Germany, France and other northern states complain Italy and Greece are ignoring the Dublin rules on registering asylum-seekers and helping them travel north through the Schengen area. They now complain Italy and Greece are slow to accept EU help to properly register migrants and send back non-refugees, meaning many can drift across Europe working without documents. Hungary blames Greece for the tens of thousands arriving there this summer and has now fenced off its border with Serbia and its new target to throw blame against is Croatia! Slovenia has also entered the blame and rejection game. It too, like Hungary says it will protect the Schengen borders! Greece and Italy are within the Schengen area also but have not protected the borders and, instead, moved the refugees onward into Europe – let someone else worry about them, would sum it up.

Assisting refugees onto buses in Croatia Saturday 19 September 2015

Assisting refugees onto buses
in Croatia
Saturday 19 September 2015

Germany, France and others criticise eastern states led by Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary for blocking a larger Jean Claude Juncker plan to relocate 120,000 according to quotas. Some say these ex-Communist states lack solidarity after years of receiving EU subsidies and could be penalised by having their grants cut. These eastern European countries accuse Germany of bullying, say relocation will only draw in more immigrants who will, in any case, not want to stay in eastern Europe but will defy the unenforceable Dublin rules and cross Schengen borders to Germany. They say that the EU bailed out Greece on a number of occasions and yet it does not seem to be getting the harsh criticism from Brussels as they are. Obviously EU isn’t going to change its composition of egotistical states any time soon.
Stung by criticism of “Brussels” for not being able to quieten the squabbles between member states affected by the refugee crisis, European Commission officials have noted that their power is limited. Variations in the welcome given to refugees or benefits offered are national prerogatives.

Croatia and refugee crisis in EU

Croatia and
refugee crisis in EU

An EU emergency response system to provide extra frontier guards has been canvassed in Brussels but such a mechanism can only be triggered by invitation – something Athens, caught up in debt crisis and new elections, has yet to issue, reports Reuters.

Comforted by a strong vote on Thursday 17 September for its mandatory quota proposal in the European Parliament, another federalist institution, the European Commission declared this “a clear signal to … ministers … that it is high time to act and finally agree”.
But national leaders insist on first seeking consensus among states. “I feel an allergy to coercion,” their summit’s chairman Donald Tusk, a former Polish prime minister, said last week.
Juncker last week suggested a common EU border guard service and some officials believe a single EU asylum system could make better sense than a patchwork of national policies.

Syrian refugees in Croatia

Syrian refugees (or migrants?) in Croatia

Now, one cannot throw caution to the wind and not ponder on the unwanted eventuality of EU setting up large refugee camps in Croatia as part of the solution, given that Croatia is outside the Schengen area. Could that possibility be in what Milanovic and Merkel reportedly agreed upon? That the problem needs to be solved on EU’s external borders! Could Croatia end up being a huge camp in which the refugees are housed until processed, until their refugee status confirmed or rejected and from where they would either be distributed to other EU countries or deported out of EU? Large numbers are in question. It’s estimated that besides the 500,000 that have already entered European Union countries, another 500,000 are expected the coming year. Having in mind points of entry one can estimate that about 200,000 will enter through Greece and then up to Croatia/Hungary. Such overwhelming numbers would have alarming and destructive effects on the culture and life in Croatia as we know it with large doses of security issues to breeding of radicalism and terrorism as has been observed in other EU countries where multiculturalism has been developing for decades.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic President Of Croatia Photo: Ivo Cagalj/Pixsell

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
President Of Croatia
Photo: Ivo Cagalj/Pixsell

Croatia’s Vecernji List reports that president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic had Saturday 19 September spoken to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and several state leaders about the migration crisis. She emphasised that the problem of the crisis is not only Croatian but also European and global and that it needs to be solved according to those premises. She said that Croatia would insist on solving the problem as being a global one as opposed to a local one. She expects that some 40,000 refugees will enter Croatia in the coming two days and that measures of security and other matters must be put in place in order to secure stability.
Croatia is not a country of first entry, Serbia is qualified as a safe country and therefore there is no need for thousands of migrants to cross over daily to Croatia, we cannot absorb them. We must, first of all, be realistic, secure safety of our own citizens and the stability of our country. We must know who the people crossing our borders are, that it be under supervision, at official crossings, not illegally, then we need to know where they are going because we cannot take care of so many on a long term basis,” she said.
Now all Croatia needs is a consensus between the Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic regarding the safety and security but the likelihood of that happening to an ideal level is quite slim with general elections “around the corner”. I do so agree with President Grabar-Kitarovic that the problem is global and the UN must start playing a bigger role. That particularly with view to establishing more refugee camps outside the EU countries, including Serbia if they reach it from Turkey/Greece. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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