Cerar urges shutting Balkan route to illegal migrants
Once the Balkan route is effectively closed, Slovenia will be able to remove the razor-wire fence from its border with Croatia, he indicated.
Cerar reiterated his call for preserving the Schengen passport-free zone, announcing that Slovenia would now start fully implementing Schengen rules after partly suspending them temporarily. This means that only those with legal grounds and appropriate documents will be allowed to cross the border.
Expecting that today's meeting will bring agreement on the closure of the Balkan route, Cerar said that Slovenia's initiative was materialising now and was the first operational, joint and coordinated action of a group of countries ranging from Austria to Macedonia.
Cerar, who has been advocating stricter controls on the Greek-Macedonian border, added the closure of the route and this cooperation had to be upgraded with aid to Greece and Macedonia.
Also, those who have legal grounds for this, need to be enabled a life in the EU.
Cerar announced that after the illegal migration wave is stopped, Slovenia was willing to accept the first of the 567 refugees the country had committed to accept in a year a half under an EU relocation plan.
He said Slovenia would accept the first 40 to 50 refugees in April, followed by about as many each month so as to meet the agreed figure of 567 in a year and a half.
"This is an expression of our solidarity, which at the same time takes our integration capacities into consideration," Cerar said, expressing his hope that other countries will also honour the quotas.
He reiterated Slovenia was as in a different position than Austria, since it had to protect the Schengen border and argued the aim of the Slovenian initiative was to protect the Western Balkans from potential conflicts resulting from tens of thousands of migrants coming to the region.
Cerar announced that Slovenia would continue pushing in this direction even if the closure of the Balkan route was not included in the final statement to be adopted by EU leaders in Brussels today.