AUGUST 23 2015 21:00h

Croatian PM About Refugees: We won't run away from our responsibility!




Prime Minister and Social Democratic Party (SDP) president Zoran Milanovic said on Sunday that the Istrian Democratic Party (IDS) was part of the ruling coalition and that the door for further coalition cooperation was wide open to it, but that he had not come to Istria County to put the coalition in order.


"The coalition has five parties and I'm the president of only one. It may be the biggest, but the HNS (People's Party), the HSU (Pensioners Party) and the Labour Party are here too as well as the authentic peasant party. I'm not their negotiator... but next week we will certainly sign an agreement on jointly running in the election," Milanovic told reporters in Barban, where he attended a tournament dating back to the Middle Ages.

He said the IDS was part of the incumbent ruling coalition and that the SDP and the IDS had been working together for three and a half years now. "We are giving a lot to Istria, which doesn't mean we aren't giving to others. We are too centralised, which we wish to change, not through five to eight regions, but in another way," he said, adding that "the IDS is here" and that a cooperation agreement should be signed because the other partners expected it of the SDP.

The press asked him if Croatia was ready to receive refugees if their route was redirected towards Croatia. Milanovic said it was virtually impossible for what happened in Macedonia to happen in Croatia.

"I have been saying from day one, both in Croatia and in the European Council and among the prime ministers of the European Council, that we are a country which received help from others when it was hardest. Therefore, in line with our possibilities, which are small but do exist, we are willing to help and will do so."

Milanovic said he did not expect the refugee crisis to spill over into Croatia but that if it did, "we must be human, have heart and give our all."

He said finances were the smallest problem in handling the refugee crisis and helping refugees because resources and sources existed. He added, however, that Croatia was not the refugees' "goal and target... These are desperate people running away from a difficult situation and you can't welcome them with batons."

Asked if the state had a strategy for receiving refugees, he said Croatia could not have a strategy without the European Union, "which has no strategy and this has taken it by surprise... Germany will take in nearly a million people this year and Croatia will help, of course. One of our biggest ships is near Sicily right now, participating in the rescue of people. We are here, we won't run away from our responsibility and Croats will show solidarity."

Reporters asked him if he had information that Egyptian services killed a person involved in the murder of kidnapped Croatian citizen Tomislav Salopek. Milanovic said he was informed about it, but too late. "I can't comment. I know about it but, as you know, our options are limited."

The medieval tournament was also attended by President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and former presidents Ivo Josipovic and Stjepan Mesic.