The leader of the right-wing Independents for Croatia (NHR) party, Bruna Esih, and the secretary-general of the French right-wing National Rally party, Nicolas Bay, held a joint news conference in Zagreb on Monday in which they talked about the migrant crisis and called on Croatian authorities to "better protect the Croatian border."
"We are facing migrations which cannot be compared to any other population movement (in recent history). This amounts to social engineering," Esih told reporters, in a statement echoing other right-wing anti-immigration figures around Europe.
Esih's party, established in 2017, currently holds only two out of 151 seats in Parliament. She is also the party's lead candidate in the European election on May 26, although polls give them slim chances of passing the threshold needed to win any seats.
"We are concerned about the increasingly obvious trend of erasing the difference between legal and illegal migration. Under mottos which call for upholding human rights for migrants, human rights of others are brought to question - by which I mean the right to freedom of express one's opinion, and the right to security," Esih was reported as saying by state news agency Hina.
She added that together with Bay she visited Croatia's border with Bosnia, which has recently become a frequent target of illegal border crossings, and that locals living there confirmed that migrants seem to be well informed about police patrols and check points, allowing them to evade police in their attempts to reach western Europe.
Bay, a senior official of Marine Le Pen's National Rally party in France, who also co-chairs the Europe of Nations and Freedom right-wing group in the European Parliament, said that European nations are facing a challenge in upholding their identities and security.
"When it comes to the situation at Croatia's borders, the European Union is showing its weakness, because it is unable to secure the European border," Bay told reporters.
According to Croatian police figures some 8,200 illegal border entriew were registered in 2018, or 70 percent up from 2017. The migrants, primarily originating from Middle Eastern countries, travel along routes from Turkey and Greece through Albania to Bosnia, where they often go to the northwestern part of the country, where they hope to cross into EU member state Croatia and pass through some 50 kilometres across the narrowest part of Croatia's territory to reach Schengen passport-free travel area member Slovenia.
Bay described the current situation as "chaotic" and proceeded to blame what he said were open-door policies of the outgoing European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, for causing it.
He added that the EU should serve to protect Croatia from what he said were "threats in its neighbourhood," and singled out Bosnia and Herzegovina, which he described as an "unstable country where there is lots of corruption and insecurity, and which could become a foothold for Islamism," state agency Hina reported.
Bay told reporters that the choice in the upcoming European election is between either a "policy of globalisation with no border protection," or a 'Europe of nations' where each country in the EU would keep its future in its own hands.
Unlike Esih's party, which is not expected to win any out of Croatia's 12 seats in the European Parliament, polling at below 4 percent of the vote, the latest projections for France published by Politico.eu say that Bay's National Rally is on track to win about 22 out of France's 74 seats in the new assembly.