Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic on Monday denied recent allegations from Bosnia and Herzegovina that there are about 8,000 migrants in Croatia, and responded that the number of migrants caught trespassing the entire border, including the border with Serbia, has amounted to 3,200 so far this year.
"We are recording a 26 percent increase in the number of illegal crossings, of which, a significant number is still along the border with Serbia, " Bozinovic said, and added that the Croatian police were doing their job in accordance with Croatian law and Schengen rules.
Asked to comment on claims by residents in Dreznica, a village about 150 kilometres southeast of the capital Zagreb, that they are frequently seeing migrants, Bozinovic said that the police were stopping migrants at the border and that there were several 'rings' being monitored which have led to arrests of people smugglers.
"It can always happen that someone may find their way, so to speak, to pass through (the border), but we have a response for each of those situations," Bozinovic said, and added that the number of smugglers brought to justice has increased by 70 percent.
"The only way to decrease the flow of migrants along the route from Greece across Albania and Bosnia is via diplomatic channels and EU institutions, and that is what we are doing," he said.
"Most of these illegal migrants are economic migrants, not refugees needing a safe haven, and if everyone does their job along that route, the pressure on the borders will be reduced," he added.
Croatia is strengthening its technical resources and increasing its personnel, Bozinovic said and added that this year 600 police recruits have enrolled for training, compared to last year's 380.