Croatian government moves to enable army to help control border

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 04, 2016 4:32 AM

ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatia proposed amending its border control and defense laws on Friday to enable the army to help police manage flows of migrants, as Western Balkan states effectively close their borders to those fleeing conflict or poverty in the Middle East.

Around 700,000 migrants have passed through Croatia since last September. At least 30,000 are currently stuck in Greece, prevented from traveling up the Balkans to wealthy western Europe, most often to Germany.

The Croatian government's proposed amendments would allow the army to help protect the country's borders in exceptional security or humanitarian circumstances. The army would follow police instructions.

"It doesn't mean we will activate this tomorrow, but we want to have this option," Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic told a cabinet session.

Parliament must approve the legal changes. Neighboring Slovenia approved a similar amendment last month.

Oreskovic had said this week on a visit to Germany that Croatia favored a European Union-wide solution to the migrant crisis rather than unilateral actions by individual countries.

(Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Hugh Lawson)