EU commissioner urges Croatia to lift border blockade

EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn has appealed on the Croatian government to end its blockade of the border with Serbia, closed last weekend to trucks.

Source: B92, Beta, Tanjug

Speaking during a joint news conference in Belgrade with Serbian PM Aleksandar Vucic, Hahn, who is in charge of EU's neighborhood policy and enlargement talks, also appealed on "everyone to disarm their speech."

The EU official said he did not wish to hide he was deeply concerned because of the situation on the border between Croatia and Serbia.

"I don't think there's anything to negotiate about," Hahn said, adding that the problem can only be solved by the lifting of the blockade.

He added it was possible to introduce "certain temporary border controls" inside the Schengen area, but that these measures "must be moderate and proportionate, and must not be discriminatory."

He also urged everyone to "disarm" their speech and words.

Asked to comment on Croatian PM Zoran Milanovic's recent statement about "building a fence in the direction of the barbarians," Hahn said he "does not like" this kind of talk when used in private, and especially not on a state level, and that there was no reaction because he did not wish to contribute to the raising of tensions in statements that contributed to the permanent damage.

"I think that language is unacceptable between members of nations, and especially between states," he said.

During the news conference, Hahn also said he "expected" that first negotiating chapters in Serbia's EU membership talks would be opened by the end of the year.

Earlier in the day, the EU official and Aleksandar Vucic visited a refugee reception center near Serbia's border with Croatia.

Serbia can rely on the European Union, Hahn also said during the news conference.

Hahn added he was "thankful to the Serbian people for their generosity to refugees."

"I was impressed with what I saw today and it is an inspiring message for all, said the commissioner.

"The European Union is determined to support Serbia just like it did last year after the devastating floods. You can count on the EU's support," said Hahn.

The Western Balkan countries affected by the refugee crisis, including Serbia, are not the cause of the problem but rather contribute to the resolution of the crisis, he pointed out.

The number of refugees in Europe is the highest since the Second World War, he added.

"This is an international and not only a European problem,” Hahn underlined, stressing that the crisis must be resolved without differentiating between member states and non-member states.

"We must stabilize the situation in the regions," the European commissioner said.


Johannes Hahn said in Belgrade on Friday that migrant readmission should not be discussed within Europe.

Hahn made the statement in response to journalists' questions as to whether the EU would return refugees and migrants from Near East and Africa to Serbia based on readmission agreements.

The migrant crisis is a global problem and it can be solved only through joint engagement of all European countries, Hahn said.

This is why readmission should not be discussed within Europe and the focus of attention should instead rest on the manner to handle the problem in the European spirit, Hahn said.

After Hahn's statement, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said that all conspiracy theories about return of refugees to Serbia have now fallen through.

Vucic once more underscored that Serbia will do all to help refugees and share the burden of the refugee crisis with the EU although it is not a EU member yet.

He noted that he previously stressed on several occasions that Serbia is ready to take over its share of obligations and accept the quota the EU set with regard to refugee distribution, but the idea was not met with support.

Serbia will not try to dodge its responsibilities in the future either, Vucic said and added that the country believes it is a part of the European society and wants to share the difficult moments with the Union too.


President meets with heads of UN, UNESCO

Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon have agreed that "destruction of Serb cultural heritage in Kosovo would be a crime."

Politics Wednesday, September 30, 2015 11:36 Comments: 2
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