Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Friday the EU's external border should be protected at the farthest location, and pushed for reaching an agreement with Turkey on illegal migration.
"We believe the EU's external border should be protected at the farthest location on the migration route we call eastern Mediterranean or western Balkan. That envisages protecting the Greek... and the Bulgarian border. Those borders are the initial entry point for illegal migrants," Plenkovic told reporters, adding that smugglers then brought them all the way to northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, close to the Croatian border.
He was speaking during a helicopter flight over the Croatian-Bosnian border near Zeljava Airport, responding to the question of whether the government was trying to resolve the problem of illegal migration at EU level in negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Talks with Bosnia every day at political and police levels
Croatia's role is to help find a comprehensive solution, to continue to work on an agreement and a declaration with Turkey, which will stabilise the situation as it has done over the past three years, Plenkovic said, recalling that the EU gave Turkey €6 billion to stop illegal migration.
There are over five million migrants and refugees in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon, and these countries are one of the key "components of a comprehensive solution," he said, adding that talks with BiH were conducted on a daily basis at the political and police levels.
Asked about Turkey's threats that it would send a million refugees to this region, Plenkovic said talks must be held with Turkey because, due to its geographical position and the fact that so many refugees and migrants are on its territory, it could impact the pace of illegal migration.
He said there was no alternative to an agreement with Turkey. "It's in the security interest of the whole EU, and notably Croatia which is one of the countries on that route."
Asked if the pressure on the Croatian border would grow, Plenkovic said he would discuss that in Greece on Tuesday with PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis.