Croatia expects to join Schengen area on January 1, says PM

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said Croatia hopes to overcome the final formal hurdles on its way to becoming part of the European Union’s borderless Schengen area.

The Prime Minister said the Balkan country expects to join the Schengen zone on January 1, 2023, reports.

Plenkovic pointed out that Croatia has met all the necessary requirements to be part of the Schengen zone while adding that the country is ready to provide further clarification on this subject to anyone who wishes so that the country can join Schengen on January 1, 2023.

The Croatian Prime Minister also added that a committee of the European Parliament should give a positive opinion in this regard, in the coming weeks, after assessing the state of preparation of the country for criteria such as the protection of the Croatian border. as well as the management of the migratory situation while he declared that the final decision in this regard belongs to the Justice and Home Affairs Council of the European Union.

The Croatian Prime Minister also expressed his support for two other member countries of the European Union, Bulgaria and Romania, in the process of integrating the Schengen area.

Earlier, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he supported Schengen membership for the three Balkan countries; Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia.

The German Chancellor also said that the three countries meet all the requirements to become full members of the Schengen area.

His comments came during his visit to Prague while adding that the Schengen area is one of the greatest achievements of the European Union, which he said needs to be protected and further developed.

“Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria meet all the technical requirements to become full members. I will work to see them become full members,” noted Scholz’s statement.

However, in August, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Croatia should not be allowed to join the Schengen area while calling on the EU authorities not to admit Croatia into the borderless Schengen area.

HRW’s comments came over Croatia’s treatment of migrants, following a report published on November 8, while the non-governmental organization leveled accusations at the European Commission for saying Croatia was ready to join Schengen .

“Croatia’s illegal and violent summary returns of asylum seekers and migrants should prevent it from joining the Schengen area”, Lydia Gall, senior researcher for Eastern Europe and the Balkans at HRW, pointed out, adding that the Commission’s actions “sends the message that serious human rights violations are not an obstacle to joining Schengen”, according to a report provided by Radio Free Europe.

However, the European Commission has called on the European Council to adopt decisions allowing Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen area.

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