We must return to Schengen, says Chancellor
Alongside the challenges posed by the refugee crisis, they used the inaugural visit of the Croatian Premier to talk about developing economic cooperation between the two countries.
Asylum-seekers have no entitlement to pick the European state in which they wish to request asylum, stressed Chancellor Angela Merkel following her meeting with the new Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, Tihomir Orešković.
At a joint press conference, both called for better protection of the EU’s external border in Greece and the restoration of the Schengen Area. It is not helpful to make unilateral or one-off decisions, underlined Angela Merkel. That is why she considers that the European Council meeting this coming Monday to be so important, added the Chancellor.
Angela Merkel rejected calls to move swiftly to take in refugees currently in Greece. The situation today is not comparable to the situation in Hungary last summer, she said. Greece has begun work on a great many preparations. Some of the hotspots are in place and overnight and other accommodation is available.
Political developments in Croatia
The Chancellor praised the good cooperation and friendship that links Germany and Croatia, and expressed her hope that this can be further developed. Germany supported Croatia’s efforts to become independent and to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union. Angela Merkel pointed out that 260,000 Croatians live in Germany and that two million Germans choose to spend their holidays in Croatia every year. This underlines the excellent relations between the two peoples and countries, she said.
Developing economic cooperation
Economic cooperation must be further stepped up in the view of the Chancellor and the Croatian Prime Minister. The new German-Croatian Task Force is to meet for the first time on 15 March to this end. Angela Merkel praised the agenda of the Croatian government, which has advanced the country. She also expressed her appreciation of Croatia’s efforts to reduce its debt and to forge ahead with internal reforms. Improvements to the investment climate are, however, still needed she said. Tihomir Orešković reported that his government was working on this problem and that it will make every effort to meet the Maastricht criteria.