Plenković: I have confidence in our Schengen membership bid

Photo /Vijesti/2022/11 studeni/10 studeni/DSC_7855.jpg

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Monday downplayed the possibility of Austria blocking Croatia's entry to the Schengen area, saying that the Austrian government was just responding to Austrians' concern about illegal migrations.

Austrian Minister of the Interior Gerhard Karner has lately expressed opposition on several occasions to the enlargement of the Schengen area, saying that it was not functioning, as evidenced by an increased number of asylum seekers in Austria.

"The reason why Austria is concerned is not Croatia but an increased number of asylum-seekers in Austria. They are thus drawing attention to something that is among the three main topics in surveys - illegal migrations, energy prices and inflation," Plenković told reporters.

"The next election in Austria is in 2024 but those topics definitely require the government to state its position on them," he added.

Until now Austria has not opposed Croatia's entry to the Schengen area, which is expected to happen in early 2023. A final decision on the matter will be made by the Justice and Home Affairs Council, to meet in Brussels on 8-9 December.

Plenković said that he understands Vienna's concerns but that he expects support and understanding for what Croatia did in the process of meeting the membership criteria.

"I am confident that in the end we will be successful," said Plenković, who will meet with visiting Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer on Wednesday.

The PM also said that he had not seen a video recording showing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban wearing a scarf at the FIFA 2022 World Cup featuring a map of Greater Hungary.

"I did not see it, I don't have time to look at other people's scarves... as regards territorial claims towards Croatia by any country, including Hungary, they are absolutely unacceptable, that's not an option for us," said Plenković.

Text: Hina