As Croatia is preparing to join the European Union's Schengen Area on January 1st, Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner has once again reiterated his opposition to Schengen expansion. During a visit to the Austrian-Hungarian border this morning Karner said that the situation at the border is unbearable for the local population due to rampant illegal migration. He concluded that this is proof that the Schengen regime does not work in principle and that for this reason expanding the Schengen Area is pointless.
Speaking to reports on Monday, Croatian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Davor Božinović, who just two days ago asserted that Austria continues to support Croatia's accession to the border area, warned of the ever growing pressure of illegal migration into Europe, including Croatia. This year alone, more than 36 000 migrants entered Croatia, which is up by 145% from the previous year. Minister Božinović believes that Europe will be dealing with the problem of illegal migration for decades to come, and that for this reason it needs a clear policy on that matter: “Croatia is one of the rare countries that is doing everything with regard to protecting human rights and treating the migrant crisis as a humanitarian issue on the one hand, and on the other also addressing security concerns. This is not an issue that can be resolved by one country alone. It needs to be resolved efficiently by the European Union, but also our neighboring countries.”
This year has seen a massive increase in illegal migrants entering the EU from various routes. The European Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, announced today that in recent weeks the number of illegal migrants crossing through the so-called Western Balkan route has jumped threefold from last year and a stunning fourteen times from 2019: “The last weeks, or the last months, there has been a lot of focus on the Western Balkan route. The latest events confirm that this situation is not sustainable.”
She added that the vast majority of the illegal migrants forcing their way into Europe are not in need of international protection.
An extraordinary meeting of European Union interior ministers will be held in Brussels on Friday, at which they will consider the commission's proposed action plan to respond to the crisis.
And while illegal migrants flood into the country, Croatia has prepared heated tents to receive them at Zagreb's main rail station, where they will receive food and basic personal hygiene products, and have access to bathrooms and places to charge their mobile phones.
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