The Slovenia Times

Police checks return to border with Croatia, Hungary

Dragonja, a former border crossing with Croatia. Photo: Bojan Kralj/STA

Slovenia has decided to reintroduce police checks at its border with Croatia and Hungary from Saturday, initially for ten days, citing heightened security risks due to organised crime and the escalation of tensions in the Middle East.

Law enforcement information indicates organised crime in the Western Balkans is surging, with organised groups becoming increasingly connected and intertwined.

Moreover, members of various terrorist and extremist movements and groups are withdrawing from conflict zones "to avoid the consequences of their actions or even with the intention of jeopardising our security and stability," the government said on 19 October.

The risk is that such persons infiltrate migration flows and attempt to enter Slovenia illegally.

Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar said that people along the border would be able to continue to live normally despite the reintroduction of police checks.

"My instruction to the police commissioner was to ensure normal life and normal crossing for the people who live along the border," he said.

The minister apologised in advance to all citizens and residents of Slovenia who will be stopped and will have to show their IDs, "because the terrorist threat is still high in Europe."

The decision comes after Italy announced the same measure at the border with Slovenia as of Saturday due to the changed security situation in Europe and the Middle East.

Poklukar has assured his Croatian counterpart Davor Božinović that Slovenia will adapt the measure to the people living near the border, and expects Italy to do the same.

"I once again told Italian Minister Matteo Piantedosi that I want Italy to ensure the normal flow of people living along the border," Poklukar said, noting that the border closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic made life at the border "unbearable".

All three interior ministers will discuss the issue at a meeting in Trieste in early November.

While the government cites heightened terrorist risk, it has long been expected that police checks will be reintroduced at least at the border with Croatia since illegal migrations have surged after Croatia joined the Schengen zone at the start of the year and police checks were discontinued.

Croatia reacted coolly to the news with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković saying that the checks must remain an exception introduced only as a last resort.

He attributed the decision to the migration crisis and an increased terrorist threat related to the escalation of violence in the Middle East, noting that consultations with the neighbouring countries concerned were of key importance.

The latest police data show Slovenian police intercepted more than 48,000 illegal migrants, more than triple the figure of a year ago.

The regime on the border will be the same as it was before police checks were abolished. There will be 14 international crossings, 12 on the border with Croatia and two on the Hungarian border, plus checkpoints that only locals can use.


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