Plenkovic tells Die Welt Croatia has important role in protection of EU external border



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Njemačka kancelarka Angela Merkel i hrvatski predsjednik Andrej Plenković

Chancellor Merkel noted that Germany and Croatia also work well together on migration-related issues

Croatia has an important role in the protection of the European Union's longest external border and in prevention of a new migrant crisis, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said in an interview which Die Welt released on Saturday.

In his interview for this German national daily newspaper published by the Axel Springer SE publishing group, Plenković refuted criticism that Croatian police forcibly stopped migrants along its borderline.

"The Croatian police implement national and European legislation and rules, including the Schengen Borders Code and the Dublin Regulation," the premier said.

This is essential for efforts to prevent the recurrence of uncontrolled migrations such happened in 2015 or occurrence of irregular migrations along new route, he explains.

This past Tuesday, Plenkovic was received in Berlin by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and migrations was one of the topics on the agenda of their talks.

"On migration-related issues, said the Chancellor, Germany and Croatia also work well together," according to a press release issued by the Office of the German Chancellor.

"Croatia is not yet part of the Schengen Area, but with its security forces it is doing an excellent job in protecting the EU’s external border," Merkel was quoted as saying according to the press release issued on the web site of the German Chancellor's Office.

The Chancellor expressed understanding for Croatia’s wish to join the Schengen Area and the euro zone. She stated her support for this project. "Certain criteria must be met. Croatia has made very good progress along this road," said Merkel.

Asked by Die Welt whether Chancellor Merkel had prudently acted during the  resolution of the 2015/2016 migrant crisis, Plenkovic said that her actions amounted to a gesture of solidarity.

It is now clear to everyone that irregular migrations should not be allowed in that way. Therefore it is better to reinforce the external border and try solve the problem at its root. All of us have learnt that lesson, Plenković said.

Commenting on Germany's role in the future of Europe, Plenković pointed out the importance of that country for the whole of the EU, and added that Croatia would like to strengthen the political and economic relations with Germany, which is why an action plan for that purpose has been prepared.

He said that a pillar for a good cooperation is the 500,000-strong expat Croat community in that European biggest economy.

In addition, Germany is the top trading partner of Croatia with the volume of their bilateral trade in 2017 standing at EUR 5.2 billion.

According to the press release on the web site of the German Chancellor's Office, Merkel described Croatia as a a close friend.

"The Chancellor advocated stepping up economic cooperation between Germany and Croatia. With Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, Angela Merkel also agreed to cooperate closely during Croatia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2020."

Commenting on the further enlargement of the Union to the southeast of the continent, Plenković said Croatia was ready to help those aspirants to meet the criteria for the accession and recalled that during its presidency over the EU in the first half of 2020, Zagreb intends to organise a summit meeting of the EU and southeastern European countries.

Asked how he opposed the ideas such as those promoted by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in the European People's Party (EPP), Plenkovic said that it was not necessary to have the same opinion on each topic and that an equilibrium is sought every time.