The Slovenia Times

Slovenia, Croatia, Italy want to boost joint border patrols

Interior ministers of Croatia, Italy and Slovenia, (left to right) Davor Božinović, Matteo Piantedosi and Boštjan Poklukar, meet in Trieste to discuss police checks on internal Schengen borders. Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

The interior ministers of Slovenia, Italy and Croatia talked up the efforts to strengthen cooperation in patrolling the borders along the Western Balkans migration route, as they met in Trieste on 2 November.

Slovenia's Boštjan Poklukar, Italy's Matteo Piantedosi and Croatia's Davor Božinović agreed in principle on stepping up mixed border patrols, introducing joint centres for police coordination, and holding regular meetings of relevant ministers and police commissioners from the three countries.

Data after the first ten days since police checks were reintroduced on the internal Schengen borders by Italy and Slovenia inspires optimism and shows that the measure has been effective, Piantedosi told reporters. The checks have since been extended.

He said Italy applied the measure in a way that had not been causing major problems for cross-border workers.

He reiterated that the checks were reintroduced based on terrorism threat analyses. They will be extended until the situation improves, he said, adding that all the ministers would like to see border checks abolished again.

Poklukar noted that EU rules allowed a maximum of two months of extensions. Slovenia has extended the checks until 19 November for the time being.

The Italian minister said three measures were agreed at the meeting. The first is the establishment of a permanent structure for the organisation of mixed police brigades. Italy would like to see such brigades, whereas Slovenia advocates the expansion of mixed patrols within the trilateral format, said Poklukar.

The second measure is the establishment of joint police coordination centres. The operational details of both measures will be discussed by the three police commissioners.

And the third measure is the decision to turn such trilateral meetings into a regular feature. The police commissioners are also expected to exchange information more often via videolink.

Call for other countries to join the effort

Poklukar hopes that some other country will decide to join this form of cooperation.

He said that the problem of visa policy would have to be resolved at EU level and that the three ministers were committed to ensuring that foreigners no longer entered the Western Balkan countries as tourists and then headed west.

He expressed support for the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area and for the operation of the Frontex agency in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Next week, Bosnian Minister of Security Nenad Nešić will pay a visit to Slovenia, Poklukar announced.

Božinović sees abuses of asylum policy at EU level as the main problem. All third-country nationals arriving in Slovenia and then Italy from Croatia are registered, he said.

He added that they also crossed the territory of at least one EU country before entering Croatia, calling on those countries to join forces with Slovenia, Italy and Croatia.

The Croatian minister believes that mobile police patrols are much more effective than checks at main border crossings. The mixed patrols caught more than 500 smugglers of illegal migrants so far this year, and detected some 26,000 illegal border crossings, he noted.

Piantedosi added that police checks at border crossings had also proved to be effective.

In the meantime Slovenian police have been busy cracking down on migrant smugglers. On the last two days of October alone they apprehended four drivers who tried to smuggle third-country nationals into the country in four separate incidents.

One of the drivers collided with another car while fleeing the police, with the driver of the other car sustaining light injuries in the crash.


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