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Croatia supports the admission of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area, stated Croatian Minister of Internal Affairs Davor Božinović in today's interview with the Croatian publication "Utarni listi". 

All EU member states supported Croatia's entry into the Schengen area in the Justice and Home Affairs Council, but Austria opposed the admission of Romania and Bulgaria, which did not receive support from the Netherlands either.

"I believe that in the next period Bulgaria and Romania will remove the doubts that still exist about their membership.

Croatia is a supporter of them becoming Schengen members," Božinović pointed out.

The Croatian interior minister commented to the publication the Austrian position on Schengen expansion.

He said that Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner was not opposed to Croatia becoming a member of the Schengen area, but was fundamentally opposed to the extension of Schengen at that time.

They rejected Bulgaria's entry into Schengen

"As you know, the Austrian chancellor (Karl Nehamer) was in Zagreb and he talked to our Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic," Božinović recalled, noting that he also knew Nehamer well, who before becoming chancellor was minister of the interior.

To be honest, I couldn't imagine a scenario where Austria blocked Croatia.

Nearly two million Austrians come to Croatia every year, and I'm afraid they wouldn't take it well, Božinović said.

Regarding the Dutch veto, the Croatian minister commented that the Netherlands is a country that is quite demanding when it comes to fulfilling the conditions for European integration.

He noted the importance of conducting a reasoned dialogue with the Dutch representatives in order to support Croatia and recalled that Prime Minister Plenkovic had spoken with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte given the specific internal procedures of the Netherlands.

"When you know that some countries have a more complicated procedure, then you prepare for them specifically.

My Dutch colleague told me today: "Everything we asked of you and all the questions we had, you answered," Božinović said, adding that it is an approach that often needs to be adapted to the circumstances and procedures of the countries being talked to.

When asked whether diplomatic activity was key to Croatia's entry into Schengen, Božinović replied that political, diplomatic and technical criteria should not be separated.

Schengen admission