The Slovenia Times

Slovenia's migration initiative well received in Amsterdam


On the margins of Saturday's informal meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council which was joined by foreign ministers from EU candidate countries, a meeting of foreign ministers of countries along the Balkan migration route was also held in Amsterdam.

"We all agree that an escalation in migrations could cause instability in the Western Balkans, so it is urgent to take action. There is no common European solution at the moment, but one is working on it."

Erjavec also said that the Slovenian initiative to upgrade control of the Greek-Turkish and the Greek-Macedonian borders was very well received and could form part of a comprehensive European solution.

He said Germany had promised "full financial support for these measures", while Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy Johannes Hahn underscored that finance ministers should get more involved in tackling the migration crisis.

Erjavec also said that unlike before, migration challenges were discussed in a very transparent, truly open and in-depth manner for the first time. He believes this can be credited to Slovenia's initiative and the Dutch EU presidency's intensive engagement.

Saying that Greece expected "stronger support", Erjavec pointed to an agreement to immediately strengthen the European agency for external borders Frontex. He also said that Greece needed 2,000 people as part of Frontex, but would also like more patrol boats.

Besides upgrading control of the Greek-Turkish and the Greek-Macedonian borders, Slovenia's initiative also proposes that common standards for (not) accepting refugees at the border be defined.

Erjavec pointed to the issue of returning migrants who do not meet the criteria to stay in the EU, saying High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini pledged to speed up talks with safe third countries which do not wish to take in migrants.

Erjavec also held a brief meeting with his Austrian counterpart Sebastian Kurz, who supports the Slovenian initiative, especially the stance that Macedonia should be helped to boost control at the border with Greece. The Slovenian minister said Austria had similar views to Slovenia's.

Following yesterday's criticism of Austria for failing to inform Slovenia on time about daily acceptance quotas, Erjavec said "in general I can say cooperation with Austria is at high level and there are no problems".

He also said he and Kurz agreed to keep each other up to date on the latest developments.


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