Despite hint of veto – Schengen: Croatia counts on Austria’s help


In mid-November, Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner (ÖVP) described Schengen as a “functionless system”. At the turn of the year, the Austrian Interior Minister from the ranks of the ÖVP had also critically considered and even vetoed Croatia’s imminent accession to the Schengen area. Nevertheless, Karner’s Croatian counterpart, Davor Bozinovic, is counting on Austria’s support in this matter.

“Nothing special is happening,” Bozinovic said, emphasizing that Vienna does not see Croatia as a problem. “Austria has supported Croatian membership in the Schengen area from the beginning and nothing has changed,” the minister said, according to Croatian media, emphasizing that he spoke with Karner late last week. Bozinovic added that Austria is one of the countries that would benefit most from Croatia’s accession to Schengen.

Common concerns about the Western Balkan route
The Croatian Interior Minister sees Karner’s statement in the context of the sharp increase in irregular migration. According to Bozinovic, both countries are concerned about the Western Balkan route. It is a fact that the number of illegal migrants has increased on all routes, especially along the Eastern Mediterranean route. As for Austria, however, “the vast majority” of illegal migrants to Austria do not come through Croatia, but through Serbia and Hungary, he said.

“There is a problem, but it is about migration, not Schengen,” Bozinovic said, adding that a special meeting of EU interior ministers was called on Friday. “I know that Austria has sent this message to all participants of the meeting of interior ministers in Brussels this Friday that we must address the overall crisis with illegal migration,” he stressed.

Nehammer visits “good sign
Karner told him that “Austria has never and never had anything against Croatia,” Bozinovic said. He was convinced that Austria’s concerns are directed against illegal migration. The minister sees Chancellor Karl Nehammer’s visit to Croatia on Wednesday as a “good sign”. “Austria does not see Croatia as a problem. On the contrary, we enjoyed their support and I am sure we will get it on December 8,” said Bozinovic.

As the Croatian news agency HINA reported, Austria’s interior ministry said on Saturday that Karner’s statement was intended to draw attention to the difficult situation of illegal migration Austria has been facing in recent months. It was also pointed out that the minister did not explicitly state to which countries his statements refer.

Source: Krone


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