Due to annoucement on amending the Law on State Border Control: Stop the wars, not the people who are fleeing wars!

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Motivated by the announcements made by the press that the Government of the Republic of Croatia will soon start the amendment procedure of the Law on State Border control, Centre for Peace, Non-Violence and Human Rights Osijek, Centre for Peace Studies, Welcome! Initiative, Miramida Centar and Regional Address for Non-Violent Action are wondering: Who is attacking us? Who are we defending ourselves from? Are we in war? Refugees are in search for safety, and it is our moral duty, as well responsibility deriving from the international humanitarian law, to do all we can in the sphere of humanitarian care.

“We refuse justifications of armed rattles as protective measures from the current humanitarian crisis and presenting refugees as national security threats. In this situation, we find the plan of amending the Law on State Border Control to be politically irresponsible, as it is not in accordance with our constitutional responsibilities and we do not want it to be misused for the sake of winning political points”, warn the organisations.  

How did we change so easily from a country that welcomed a million refugees during its most difficult times to a country that is threatening them with its armed forces? The Croatian response to wires, fences and militarisation, used by the other countries on the so called Balkan route, must be different. Instead of taking over the foreign policy initiative, along with some other EU member states,  and stop the militarisation of Europe, contrary to majority of the public, we have decided to succumb to policies of using military forces, wires and closing the borders to people fleeing wars, which made us close to countries such as Hungary. 

In the meantime, neither Croatia, nor the other countries along the so called “Balkan route” have invested more significant efforts into ending the Syrian conflict, or showed interest into working on integrating these people into Europe. The organisations remind that Croatia has yet to fulfil the accepted commitment of relocating refugees, and that only a symbolic amount of money was paid into the international fund for Syria. While Croatia will pay only 200.000 euros annually to Syria and its neighbours between 2016 and 2020, the costs of sending armed forces to the borders could be multiple- this relationship speaks of the fact we are not working to end the wars, but stop the people. 

The plan to extend the powers of the armed forces is not only a threat to people who flee wars, but it is also a threat to all the citizens of Croatia, because it leads to the militarisation of society, and eventually violation of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia. According to the current Constitution, the role of the armed forces is to protect the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Croatia, and they can be used as assistance in fire protection, as well as rescuing, surveillance and protection of rights of the Republic of Croatia at sea. In what ways have the people fleeing wars jeopardised the sovereignty and independence of the Republic of Croatia? In this moment, granting armed forces the power to control the state borders would be in violation of the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia.  

Because of all stated above, the said organisations call on the decision makers to focus their efforts in the refugee crisis on ending the war in Syria, as well as strengthen the integration of refugees into our society.  

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