European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said the European Union wants to be a credible partner for Bosnia and Herzegovina in all aspects, including the migrant crisis, stressing that the country must show that it is capable of controlling these processes.
“Managing migrant populations is the responsibility of the countries themselves, and BiH must also act accordingly; the whole country must bear its share of the burden, “Johansson said in Sarajevo on Friday after meeting with BiH Council of Ministers Chairman Zoran Tegeltija and his deputies.
Most of the country’s illegal migrants have gathered around Sarajevo and the Bihać area in the west of the country near the Croatian border, as other parts of the country refuse to accept them. Moreover, authorities in the Republika Srpska entity are constantly pushing migrants into the territory of the Federation of BiH.
Johansson is on a two-day visit to BiH to personally take a closer look at the problems related to illegal migration in the country, saying the EU can help control the migrant crisis.
On Thursday, Johansson visited the Una-Sana Canton where most of the approximately 8,000 migrants currently reside. She spoke to local authorities and visited the makeshift Lipa migrant camp, about 20km outside Bihać.
In a press statement Friday, Johansson said she held open talks with Prime Minister Tegeltija and that her core message was that they could rely on the EU as a credible partner in the current situation.
She recalled that she recently introduced herself to the new EU migration and asylum pact that treats migrants as a permanent issue that will not go away, and so should be addressed that way.
One of the conditions of the pact is that migrants who are not entitled to humanitarian protection must return from the EU’s external border to their countries of origin.
The same rule should apply to BiH, which would automatically facilitate the control of illegal migrants in the country.
Tegeltija said that, given the size of his country and its population, BiH has struggled with the excessive burden of the migrant crisis for years.
He claimed that BiH could not control its borders against the wave of migrants on its own and that there should be a joint effort by all countries to speed up the readmission process.
“BiH is prepared to be a partner in controlling migration, but it cannot be a hostage to the migrant crisis, nor is it prepared to be a hotel for migrants entering the country and then being blocked from leaving. his, “said Tegeltija.