“I expect that on December 8, Croatia will receive the final confirmation for entering the Schengen area, because Austria's concern is not related to any country, but to its general functioning, “said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović in Valbandon, where he was on a business meeting with the German ambassador Christian Hellbach.
“Austria has repeatedly stated in recent days that their concern is not related to any individual country, but to the functioning of Schengen. Our argument in this context is that Schengen can only get stronger with Croatia as a member,” Davor Božinović pointed out to journalists.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer will visit Croatia tomorrow.
Božinović announced that one of the topics of his talks will be the increased number of migrations on the Western-Balkan route, but also the session of the Council for Justice and Internal Affairs, which will make the final decision on Croatia's entry into Schengen on December 8, for which official Zagreb already has the support of the European Commission and the European Parliament.
The minister also said that he expects that at that meeting, based on everything it has done so far, while meeting the high standards of the European Union in the protection of external borders and in the protection of the fundamental rights of all persons who find themselves on the road, including illegal entry into Croatia, we will become a full Schengen member.
“Personally, I still think that Austria's position is the same as ours - that Schengen should be expanded, that it should be strengthened, and certainly that blockades cannot contribute to that,” said Božinović.
Branko Bačić, the president of the Croatian Democratic Union Club of Representatives in Parliament, said that the opposition did not think that entry into Schengen was something that had to be worked on, but that it was something that was taken for granted. He said that the situation is completely different and that they have been working on it for six years.
“All ministries had to fulfill 281 criteria in order for Croatia to be in a position where 90 percent of the European Parliament supports Croatia, but this process is open until the last moment until a decision is made,” he emphasized.
He added that despite what the opposition thought, the Government is convinced that in about 15 days the final steps will be completed so that the Council of Ministers of the Interior can make its decision.
“This process that Croatia has been working on for the last six years was the most complicated of all the procedures carried out so far by any EU member state that entered the Schengen area,” he said and added that Croatia appreciates that Austria has a problem with illegal immigrants, but that entry of immigrants would be lower if Croatia were part of the area.
He emphasized that it is in the interest of the public that Croatia enters Schengen because it will contribute to the security situation in Austria.
“The final position on Croatia's entry into Schengen will be known on December 8,” said Bačić and added that tomorrow Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and the Austrian Chancellor will make a statement about it after the talks.
He pointed out that, as far as the European Commission is concerned, it has no reservations regarding Croatia's entry into Schengen.