The Slovenia Times

Slovenia absolutely supports Croatia's Schengen entry, minister says


Obrežje - Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar stressed as she met her Croatian counterpart Davor Božinović in Obrežje, east, on Monday that Slovenia absolutely supports Croatia's entry into the Schengen zone. Božinović said this is in both countries's interest, which Bobnar confirmed.

According to Bobnar, much of today' meeting was dedicated to Croatia's entering the Schengen zone, which could happen on 1 January 2023.

The ministers discussed preparations for an agreement on cooperation between the Slovenian and Croatian police forces, which Bobnar said was "crucial and very important for the period" when Croatia becomes a member of the Schengen zone.

This comes after talks on the agreement were at a standstill for years. Bobnar said a big step towards the agreement had been taken today.

Slovenia absolutely supports Croatia's prompt entry into the Schengen zone, she said. "With that we of course expect our Croatian counterparts to conduct full oversight on the external border and meet all other tasks envisaged by the Schengen legal order," she added.

Both Bobnar and Božinović agreed that Croatia joining the Schengen zone is in both countries' best interest. The Croatian minister stressed that abolishing border checks on the Slovenian-Croatian border would make travel and lives a lot easier for everyone.

He said it was hard to find two countries whose citizens mutually travel, holiday and cooperate as much as Slovenians and Croatians.

"That's why it's also up to our governments to adopt good and realistic solutions to deliver what citizens expect from us, which is to continue life like before the epidemic and the migrant crisis with as little administration as possible," he said.

Božinović said he was pleased that more than 1.7 million Slovenians crossed the border with Croatia this year, up 30% compared to last year, which means that "life is returning to normal, and we are happy about that".

The other major topic of the meeting, which took place at Bobnar's invitation, was migration, where it was noted that both Croatia and Slovenia are seeing an increase in the number of illegal crossings of the border this year compared to 2020 and 2021.

Bobnar particularly noted a significant increase in migrants from India, Burundi and Cuba. "These people arrive legally in the Balkans and then cross our borders illegally, a phenomenon that certainly requires discussion and action also at EU level", she said.

She stressed that Slovenia will continue removing wire and panel fences regardless, as fences could not prevent migration. She said that the Slovenian Armed Forces were currently removing between 150 and 200 metres of wire fencing every working day, and that the Interior Ministry was already preparing for the selection of a contractor to remove the panel fencing as well.

Božinović said that the removal of the fence was "primarily good for the people in the border area" and that the increase in illegal crossings of the border was mainly due to the increased pressure of migrants on the EU's external borders.

He stressed the importance of close cooperation between the two police forces in preventing illegal border crossings, adding that Croatia would make every effort in this respect.


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