Hundreds of Croats Returning from Abroad at Own Cost
ZAGREB, April 2, 2020 – Hundreds of Croat nationals are returning home on Saturday from Portugal, Spain, Italy and Sweden at their own cost on Croatia Airlines commercial flights because operating costs of their travel have to be covered, Croatia’s Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said.
The majority of them are students and are coming from Spain, between 150 of the 200, fewer are coming from Portugal, and between 60 and 120 are coming from Italy, Grlić Radman explained and added that repatriation is also being considered via ferry from Ancona to Zadar.
“It is our obligation to care for the safety of our citizens and to assist them in returning home,” said Grlić Radman.
As such, extraordinary “commercial repatriation flights” have been introduced, he said and added that the operating costs of the flights have to be covered.
“Airplanes are leaving Zagreb empty and it is in our interest to accommodate as many people as possible while respecting the proper distance in seating. They must wear protective masks and gloves,” he said.
He added that this crisis, after the economic and migrant crisis before it, is yet another test to “demonstrate solidarity and unity.”
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban has secured greater powers during the coronavirus crisis and has been criticised by European institutions and human rights groups.
Grlić Radman said that Croatia, “as the country presiding the Council of the EU, is a neutral mediator that needs to represent the interests of all member states.”
Thirteen EU member states signed a joint statement on Wednesday underscoring that measures in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic have to be limited in time, proportional and under regular control.
Grlić Radman said that he is aware of that, but recalled that it is “customary for the presiding country not to join any statement but to unite all interests.”
Croatia did not sign the last joint declaration by the Friends of Cohesion regarding the multi-annual financial framework even though it is a member of that informal group, nor did it sign a non-paper requesting EU enlargement to the Western Balkans even though it advocates European integration and incorporated that in its priorities for the six-month presidency, said Grlić Radman.
More coronavirus news can be found in the Lifestyle section.