Božinović: I expect Croatia to receive greenlight for Schengen on 8 December

I believe Croatia will receive the final confirmation for its entry to the Schengen Area on December 8 because Austria's concern is not related to any specific country, but rather to the general functioning of the Schengen Area, Interior Minister Davor Božinović said in Valbandon on Tuesday.

Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner had on several occasions in the past several days opposed the enlargement of the Schengen Area, saying that it was not functioning as evidenced by an increased number of asylum seekers in Austria.

"Over the past several days, Austria stated on several occasions that its concern was not related to any individual country, but rather to the functioning of the Schengen Area. Our argument in that context is that the Schengen Area can only grow stronger with Croatia as its member," Božinović told the press.

Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer is scheduled to visit Croatia on Wednesday.

Božinović said that one of the topics of the talks with Nehammer would be an increase in migrations on the Western Balkan route, as well as the coming session of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council, which is expected to adopt a decision on Croatia's entry to the Schengen Area on December 8. Zagreb has already received the support of the European Commission and the European Parliament.

Božinović said he expected Croatia to become a full member of the Schengen Area at that meeting, based on everything it had done so far in meeting the high standards of the European Union in the protection of external borders and the fundamental rights of all persons who find themselves on a migrant route, including migrants illegally entering Croatia.

"Personally, I still think that Austria's position is the same as ours - that Schengen should be expanded, that it should be strengthened, and blockades most definitely cannot contribute to that," said Božinović.

Text: Hina