Slovenia and Austria remain at odds over border checks
Slovenia has long decried police checks on Austria's border and Prime Minister Robert Golob's first official visit to Austria on 13 June did not bring a convergence of views.
After meeting Chancellor Karl Nehammer, Golob criticised the checks on the Austrian-Slovenian border, in place since the 2015 migration crisis, as unjustified and ineffective.
"Data shows that such measures do not stop migration", said Golob, who singled out Denmark as an example of migration control that countries should follow.
In May, Austria extended border checks by another six months despite Slovenia's protests and despite a recent EU Court ruling stating that such checks cannot just be extended indefinitely with the same reasoning.
Although Golob and Nehammer agreed cooperation with transit countries and countries of origin should be intensified, Nehammer said that for Austria protecting its border was of utmost importance.
"We must combine various measures," he said, citing statistics showing Austria had 109,000 applicants for asylum in 2022, of whom three quarters were not previously registered.
But asked why his country does not introduce control on the border with Italy, from where migration pressure is bigger, he said the migration route had changed due to the strict control of the border with Slovenia.
Slovenia, meanwhile, has "no intention of introducing border control with Croatia, with which we are also setting an example to Austria that migration can be tackled in different ways", said Golob.
Indeed, Slovenia has recently been dismantling hundreds of kilometres of fence on the border with Croatia that it put in place after the migration crisis.
The government says a fence is no longer needed not just because it is not effective but also because it does not make sense now that Croatia is in the Schengen zone.
Golob announced that Slovenia had instead given initiatives to expand mixed police patrols with neighbouring countries from border areas across the entire participating countries.
Nehammer acknowledged that "businesses need migration, but it has to be in accordance with the rules. If we manage to reduce the pressure on the border, then we can start talking about different measures on the border."