Additional police deployed along border with Croatia
The Slovenian police have stepped up activities along the border with Croatia by deploying additional officers along the main corridors where migrants enter the country, yet another step in a gradual increase of police presence that however stops short of full police checks on the internal border.
"These are not internal [border] checks, these are compensatory measures," Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar said as he announced the news on 27 September. He said the focus was on detecting people smugglers and cracking down on cross-border crime, stressing that there was "an important difference" between internal border checks and compensatory measures of the kind deployed now.
Additional police patrols have been deployed not on the border line in the morning, but further inland. The patrols have been deployed along the "most critical parts of the border", where data shows the largest increase in illegal migration.
Poklukar denied that the stepped up control of the border with Croatia means that control on the internal Schengen border is being re-introduced. "Such a measure is not on the table at the moment," he said.
However, he did not exclude the possibility of that happening.
"I never thought that I would close the western border with Italy during my first term as interior minister, but I did during Covid-19. So never say never," he said.
The minister said police were present at temporary checkpoints, which were being constantly adjusted, and new ones would be added if necessary. Police will also stop suspicious vehicles, which is left to the discretion of individual officers.
Poklukar said that the government was aware that migration could not be effectively managed only at Slovenia's internal borders, but in cooperation with the broader region and the countries of origin.
One of the solutions would be to ensure effective control of the external EU borders, which is the joint responsibility of the entire EU, he added.
Slovenia has high expectations of the agreements between Frontex and the Western Balkans countries. "These agreements enable Frontex to be deployed to the region to support national border authorities in border protection," Poklukar said.
The minister is heading to Brussels to attend a meeting of EU interior ministers, where he plans to meet with his Croatian counterpart Davor Božinović to discuss migrations.
Božinović said today that the increased presence of the Slovenian police along the border with Croatia did not mean that the Schengen Area was being abolished, adding that the measure had been imposed due to the presence of smugglers.
He told the Croatian press agency Hina that cross-border traffic would continue to be regulated under Schengen rules, meaning without the stoppage of vehicles.
Božinović added that, like Slovenia, Croatia also implemented compensatory measures, which were introduced after police checks were abolished on 1 January. These include random inspection of vehicles in traffic.
Slovenia's move comes amidst a three-fold increase in the number of migrants apprehended in the country in the first eight months of the year, which has created unease among locals living along the border, in particular in Brežice municipality.
Responding to local concerns, police already increased presence around Brežice a few weeks ago, but now additional forces have been deployed along a broader area.
Migrations are also becoming a political issue for the government as the centre-right opposition has returned migrations to the political agenda by demanding that border security be beefed up and plans to remove the border fence be shelved.