24 Nov 2022
Austria is backing Croatia’s entry into the European Union’s Schengen area, but not that of Bulgaria and Romania, according to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer on a visit to Zagreb on Wednesday.
“We will support Croatia’s path into the Schengen area,” Nehammer stated, on the occasion of 30 years of bilateral relations between both nations.
“Border protection of the Croatian border always means that of the Austrian border as well,” he added.
Austria will vote on accepting countries into the Schengen area individually, the Chancellor stated.
He said that Austria is tackling one of the biggest challenges out of all European Union member states, predominantly due to illegal migration and the rising number of asylum seekers, Euractiv reports.
"Since 2015, we have accepted many people into our country, and now we have tens of thousands of Ukrainians seeking asylum," he said, adding that the EU’s external borders need better protection to make free movement within the Schengen area possible.
Furthermore, Croatia’s Prime Minister Andrej Plenković stated he used the meeting with the Austrian Chancellor to “provide further clarifications… in a wider context facing Austria today, which concerns a spike in the number of asylum seekers in Austria and a general rise in illegal migration.
“We are very aware of the Chancellor’s and the Austrian government’s concerns,” Plenković added.
“Austria is the second biggest investor in Croatia and one of our top five trade partners. We are talking about two of the four biggest banks, media corporations, big construction firms… And more than 1.5 million Austrian tourists visited Croatia this year. That shows how strong our ties are.”
The European Commission recently said that Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania are all ready to join the Schengen area as they have met all required criteria.