BELGRADE – Croatia is willing to take in 476 refugees as envisaged by the EU-Turkey deal on migrant swaps, but believes it would be hard to keep them in the country, Foreign Minister Miro Kovac said.
On Monday, the March deal between the European Union and Turkey, under which Ankara pledged to take back all undocumented migrants who arrive in the European Union through its territory in exchange for asylum seekers from Syria, on a one-for-one basis, came into force.
“We stay true to our word in Croatia and will fulfil our obligations, we shall accept those 476 refugees from the Turkish territory, but the biggest challenge will be to get these people to remain in Croatia. They will want to move on – to Germany, Austria, Slovenia or the Netherlands,” Kovac said as quoted by the ministry on Tuesday.
The Turkey-EU deal has been criticized by refugee agencies and human rights campaigners, who have questioned whether Turkey can be considered a safe country for refugees.
Last year saw over 1.8 million border crossings into Europe in what has become known as the worst refugee crisis since World War II. The crisis sparked an outcry among eastern EU member state leaders over the failure of the Schengen open border systems to curb the migrant numbers.