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Croatia, Austria against walls in dealing with immigration crisis

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

The problem of refugees and illegal immigrants should be dealt with within the European Union, and putting up fences is not the way to do it, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and her Austrian counterpart Heinz Fischer said in Vienna on Thursday.

Hungary has recently announced that it will put up a fence on its border with Serbia to prevent the entry of illegal migrants from that country.

Fischer said he did not see anything good in building walls to deal with the problem of refugees. That problem can only be solved with solidarity, he said, adding that he only had second-hand information on the Hungarian initiative.

Grabar-Kitarovic would not comment on the neighbouring country's initiative, saying only that she was not in favour of "new curtains between people."

"That is a problem that must be solved through agreement in the EU," she said, adding that the Croatian Coast Guard would deploy a boat to the waters off the coast of Lampedusa island, the route used by refugees from northern Africa to reach Europe.

The two presidents also discussed EU enlargement.

Even though further enlargement is not possible in the term of this European Commission, I believe in the enlargement policy because it sends the aspiring countries a message that reforms are worth pursuing, said Grabar-Kitarovic.

She said that Croatia was not about to become a problem like Greece because it was slowly recovering from the economic crisis.

"Croatia's growth is feeble, only 0.5%, but it is a good sign that the economy is recovering and I hope that the Croatian government will continue with reforms", with the stimulation of investments and exports and small and medium-sized enterprise, she said.

"I am optimistic," she stressed.

After talks with her Austrian counterpart, the Croatian president took part in a ceremony of wrapping Ringturm, Vienna's oldest skyscraper, into a work of Croatian artist Tanja Deman. Every summer, the building serves as a 'canvas' for an artist's work, and Deman's work "Summer Pleasures" has been chosen to be displayed this year.


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