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)

Refugee Crisis: European Union Sues Own Member States Greece, Croatia, Italy, Hungary and Malta


Photo: Screenshot Time Magazine 12 December 2015

Photo: Screenshot Time Magazine 12 December 2015

Misguided or not, the EU Commission stepped up pressure on Hungary, Italy, Croatia, Greece and Malta to register all migrants and refugees entering the EU and to follow European rules in dealing with asylum claims.
The European Commission announced on Thursday 10 December 2015 that it has launched legal proceedings in line with processing infringementsfor failing to fully transpose and implement the Common European Asylum System,” against Greece, Croatia, Italy, Malta and Hungary for inadequately documenting the arrival of refugees. Specifically, the Commission burdens Greece, Croatia and Italy for failing to implement the Eurodac Regulation, which requires fingerprinting refugees within 72 hours of their arrival. Now the Commission has issued letters of formal notice to the countries involved—the first step of its infringement procedure. In simple words, these three countries had fingerprinted significantly less refugees than the number that has crossed their borders in their quest to reach Germany, Sweden … Western Europe. The point is that the Dublin Regulation on refugees includes the expectation that refugees sent back from a country where asylum has been denied are sent back to the EU country where they were first fingerprinted/registered.
In other words, Greece, Croatia and Italy have now been threatened with expensive court cases for failing to follow migrant rules, which, by the way, seem most inappropriate and inadequate in today’s refugee crisis. In EU Commission’s claimed breach of a process intended to prevent migrants travelling on through central Europe and into Germany, those countries failed to fingerprint asylum seekers within three days (72 hours) of arrival as required by the Eurodac Regulation. The number of asylum applications made to European Union (EU) countries since January has reportedly reached more than 1 million. Certainly there have been over 450,000 that have passed through Croatia since mid-September 2015 and that is only one route of several which refugees and illegal migrants take.

Refugees crossing into European countries anywhere they can away from official borders creating chaos and disorder Photo: AFP/ Attila Kisenbeck

Refugees crossing into European
countries anywhere they can
away from official borders
creating chaos and disorder
Photo: AFP/ Attila Kisenbeck

The Dublin Regulation (Regulation No. 604/2013; sometimes the Dublin III Regulation; previously the Dublin II Regulation and Dublin Convention) is a European Union (EU) law that determines the EU Member State responsible to examine an application for asylum seekers seeking international protection under the Geneva Convention and the EU Qualification Directive, within the European Union. It is the cornerstone of the Dublin System, which consists of the Dublin Regulation and the EURODAC Regulation, which establishes a Europe-wide fingerprinting database for unauthorised entrants to the EU. The Dublin Regulation aims to ‘determine rapidly the Member State responsible [for an asylum claim]’and provides for the transfer of an asylum seeker to that Member State. Usually, the responsible Member State will be the state through which the asylum seeker first entered the EU.”
On perhaps a more serious note than the case of infringements against Greece, Croatia and Italy the Commission’s actions against Hungary see Hungary facing legal action by the EU over allegations it failed to respect the rights of failed asylum seekers having allegedly ignored rules protecting failed asylum seekers from deportation while appeals are in progress. The European Commission also said that Hungary’s fast-track deportation regime ignores migrants’ rights to an interpreter, and left what should have been judicial decisions in the hands of unqualified secretaries.

Hungary thus faces a process against it for its asylum policies and newly passed legislation, which the Commission described as “incompatible with EU law.” The Commission views Hungary’s asylum appeals procedures as too strict and its translation services as inadequate or inefficient!


Refugees and illegal migrants crossing the Mediterranea to Greece Photo: Petros Giennakuris

Refugees and illegal migrants
crossing the Mediterranean to Greece
Photo: Petros Giennakouris

Greece and Malta face action for failure to meet standards for migrant reception centres. They are burdened with apparently failing to communicate the national measures taken to fully transpose the Asylum Procedures Directive, which sets out common procedures for granting and withdrawing international protection, and the Reception Conditions Directive, which deals with access to reception conditions for asylum seekers while they wait for examination of their applications.
The proceedings, which can be proposed by the European Commission or another EU-member country, will be passed to the Court of Justice of the European Union which could force the member countries burdened with infringements of Eurodac Regulation or Asylum Procedures Directives with hefty fines the countries in question can ill afford.



But, at the end of the day, the infringements are not as significant as is the issue of Germany under Angela Merkel’s voicing invitations that kept encouraging and inviting refugees and illegal migrants to come to Germany. This invitation had caused chaos and rush of people moving through countries to reach Germany, in many instances avoiding registration purposefully in EU countries they first set foot upon. No one, without using guns, could have stopped the stampede of refugees on their way to Germany or Western Europe. The refugees and the illegal migrants seemed to have known the EU asylum seeker laws quite well for an overwhelming majority did not and do not apply for asylum and international protection when in Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Italy – they push to reach Germany and Western Europe first. They seem to be well aware of the provision under the Dublin Regulation that, in case of being in several countries over the months preceding and during asylum application, the country of their most recent temporary abode must take on the responsibility of their asylum seeking case. Hence the rush, the chaos, the determination to reach Germany or Sweden or other relatively wealthy Western European countries as quickly as possible, avoiding being fingerprinted or properly registered en route. Furthermore, false claims of origins – false registrations – have been reported as especially concerning since EU announced in October 2015 it was not taking in people from other countries than Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and, it is well known that masses from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Albania, African countries are numerous among the river of people heading across Europe in search of a better life.

Illegal migrants hiding among genuine refugees seeking international protection is a large problem that cannot be solved through lawsuits or forcing implementation of inadequate rules

Illegal migrants hiding among
genuine refugees seeking
international protection is a large problem
that cannot be solved through lawsuits
or forcing implementation of inadequate rules

Regretfully, the EU Commission does not seem to have adequately addressed the fact that it takes money and manpower to fingerprint or register the masses that were crossing the borders of Croatia, Greece, and Italy etc. EU Commission should have acted quickly and provided the needed support for the registration of would-be asylum seekers or illegal migrants at first EU country border crossed in pursuit of reaching Germany to where they were invited instead of evidently expecting the seriously economically impoverished to bear the financial burden of prompt fingerprinting. One would think that the Dublin Regulation was not construed having in mind that fingerprinting or registration of refugees should jeopardise the well being of people living in countries where refugees first arrive.

Broken down the numbers of migrants seeking asylum between June and September give an interesting picture of the crisis,” writes Sarkis Zeronian of Breitbart London.  “Predictably about a third were Syrians, with a further 14 per cent from Afghanistan and 10 per cent from Iraq. However, more surprising is that fact that some 26,000 Albanians, 21,000 Pakistanis and 11,175 Nigerians also applied for asylum.

Albania aspires to membership of the EU, Pakistan is a Commonwealth country, and Nigeria, as well as also being in the Commonwealth, is one of Africa’s fastest growing states. These countries do not represent typical war-torn nations which generate refugees and asylum seekers.

Refugees and illegal migrants enter Europe together Photo: AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

Refugees and illegal migrants
enter Europe together
Photo: AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)


In this saga of EU Commission taking legal action against member countries for not fingerprinting all of the hundreds of thousands of refugees and illegal migrants crossing their borders does indeed remind one of an occurrence resembling trans-national militarism; where some blanket EU unity is being forced on issues that do not enjoy or cannot enjoy a problem-free contribution to that unity by all member states. The problem for the EU “big powers”, such as France and Germany, is that they do not seem to take lightly the fact that the EU member countries grossly economically and otherwise affected (Hungary, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Malta…) by the transit of hundreds of thousands of refugees on their way to Germany and Western Europe have taken steps for their own protection from seemingly irreparable damage. So, they assisted the desperate refugees to cross over their territories in order to reach Germany, while also building fences to discourage refugees from crossing over or placing more police and army guards at the borders. This lawsuit or infringement imposing process the EU Commission has started has all the hallmarks of trans-national militarism partly being achieved through bullying the Southern and Eastern European countries into submitting to refugee management rules that appear inadequate and to open a door for returning to those countries (at least as a transient measure) all those hundreds of thousands of people who do not achieve asylum/international protection in Germany, France or Western Europe. Interesting times are ahead and if the latter starts happening the countries affected should refuse turning their territories into one big refugee concentration camp. EU surely cannot penalise its member countries in this way just because their geographic position is such that refugees reach their shores/borders first on the way to Western Europe. The Equal distribution of refugee numbers among EU member countries of a couple of months ago, initiated by France and Germany, had not worked and now they’re leading the push to bully Southern and Eastern EU countries (Malta, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Hungary) for not fingerprinting every single one of the million or so entering Europe through them. Not even bothering to ask, it seems, whether these countries had the resources as well as the opportunity to fully attend to such a demanding, mammoth task; not even thanking the countries it intends to sue for saving so many refugee lives in the chaos of large numbers of arrivals that are in essence unmanageable; how disappointing a move by the EU. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.
%d bloggers like this: