The European Commission will ensure the protection of the right to seek asylum and respond to reports of pushbacks, Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli said in Strasbourg on Wednesday, adding that such reports are being made also about Croatia.
The European Parliament debated a Commission report on violations of the right to seek asylum. MEPs of the countries called out by Dalli mainly dismissed accusations of pushbacks.
There are 140 reports of pushbacks in Greece, the UNHCR and NGOs have expressed concern about pushbacks on the Poland-Belarus and Ukraine-Belarus borders, and reports continue to arrive from Croatia, Dalli said.
We must protect our external borders, but by respecting fundamental human rights and the right to asylum, she added.
Croatian MEP Tomislav Sokol (EPP) said Croatia protected its border in line with European and international law, and that isolated incidents did not represent the official conduct of the border police.
Last year there 17,000 persons illegally crossed the border, 40 percent fewer than in 2020, which is another indicator of Croatia’s readiness to join Schengen, he said.
The right to asylum is often abused and the border should be crossed at the border crossing, not across forests and rivers, Sokol added.
Croatian MEP Karlo Ressler (EPP) said the comparison of Ukrainian and Middle Eastern refugees did not stand as those from Ukraine are arriving with official documents at official borders.
We are humane towards everyone seeking protection, but we must remain resolute against those abusing the system, he added.