Croatia may deploy the army to their borders in an attempt to control the ever growing influx of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic said Monday.
“If it becomes necessary to use the army, we will activate that option. It would be an assistance in easing procedure,” Mr. Oreskovic told a news conference in Berlin after meeting German chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday.
Slovenia, which neighbors Croatia on the so-called Balkans route into northern Europe, approved such a move around two weeks ago. They were forced amend laws to do so, and Croatia would be have to do something similar.
However, Croatian Army General Staff have already prepared detailed plans how to use the army to control the borders, Total Croatia reports.
Since September last year, more than 650,000 migrants have passed through Croatia. Recently increased border restrictions imposed by other countries along the Balkan route have led to a build-up of new arrivals in Greece.
20,000 migrants are now trapped between Macedonia and Greece, and shutting the Croatian border with army could prevent the opening of new routes through Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro towards Croatia.
Already this year, more than 131,000 migrants have reached Europe via the Mediterranean – more than the total number in the first half of 2015, the United Nations said Tuesday.
This morning Croatian Interior Minister, Vlaho Orepić, confirmed that the government was thinking about sending the army to protect the border.
“We will probably legally create such a possibility, but we will rely entirely on the police force. Slovenia and Serbia have already done it, so we will in some way increase our capacities, but that will be only a contingency plan”, he said.
He remained skeptical that a new Balkan route through Bosnia and Herzegovina would open up, however.
“At this time, we really have no basis to think about a possible refugee route through Bosnia and Herzegovina. I will not speculate on what might happen in the future”, he said.
Adding: “As far as the return of refugees is concerned, we are really cooperating in the right way with Slovenia and Serbia. Indeed, there are no problems in our cooperation”.