Slovenia to extend border checks by half a year
The Slovenian government has extended temporary police checks on the country's borders with Croatia and Hungary by a further 20 days, until 21 December, after which it plans to extend the measure by six months.
Taking the decision at a session on 16 November, the government tasked the Foreign Ministry to notify EU member states and the European Commission of the planned six-month extension.
Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar said border controls would be extended by half a year due to a medium terrorism threat level in Slovenia and a high terrorism threat level in the EU.
Slovenia initially reinstated border checks on 21 October, the same day that Italy introduced the same measure at the Slovenian border, citing heightened security risks due to organised crime gangs and the escalation of tensions in the Middle East.
The government is currently extending temporary border checks under Article 28 of the Schengen Borders Code, which it can do for up to two months, that is until 21 December.
After that date Slovenia will apply border checks under Articles 25 and 27 of the Code, which make it possible to reinstate border controls for six months.
The Interior Ministry needs to notify the European Commission, European Parliament and Croatia and Hungary as the countries concerned of the measure.
"I hope we will be able to lift the measure once the terrorist threat level decreases," the minister said, adding that they were doing everything in their power to ensure the country's security.
He promised that the population living along the border would not feel the measure.
"We don't want long queues or traffic jams at former border crossings," he said.
He said his Italian counterpart had informally notified him that Italy too was considering extending checks on its border with Slovenia by half a year, but both countries were making efforts to ensure the border population would not be affected.
Illegal migration up more than two-fold
Slovenian police handled 50,622 cases of illegal migration in the first ten months of the year, which is more than double compared to the same period last year. Most illegal migrants came from Afghanistan (15,915), Morocco (7,668) and Pakistan (5,105).
The number of migrants who expressed intention to submit asylum applications rose to 48,996, which compares to 21,452 in the same period last year.
Existing asylum centres are overcrowded, while the government is facing resistance from local population in trying to find locations for new accommodation centres.
Since reintroducing border checks on 21 October, Slovenia has denied entry to 291 foreign nationals who did not have the required documents or overstayed their visas.
Some of the individuals posed a threat to public order and the country's internal security, police official Marko Gašperlin told reporters on 14 November when he announced that police were seeking a new extension of border checks.
He said police had not recorded longer wait times at borders due to the checks.