The Slovenia Times

Border checks extended by six more months

The Obrežje border crossing with Croatia. Photo: Tina Bernik/STA

Slovenia has decided to extend checks on its borders with Croatia and Hungary by six more months after Italy announced it will do the same on its border with Slovenia.

Both Italy and Slovenia announced the decision a month before the latest extension of the measure would have expired. In place since 21 October 2023, border controls will now remain in force until 21 December.

Announcing Slovenia's decision on 22 May, Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar said the border checks would continue to help fight crime and have as little impact on locals as possible.

The minister has notified his counterparts in Croatia and Hungary about Slovenia's decision. So has the European Commission been informed.

"I have assured both ministers that the Slovenian police will perform controls the same way as before, with targeted border checks focusing in particular on the prevention of terrorism, extremism and cross-border crime. The aim is to ensure that controls have as little negative impact as possible on travellers, businesses and the environment," Poklukar said.

When first reinstating border checks in October last year Italy and then Slovenia cited a deterioration in the security situation in Europe and the Middle East and terrorism risk.

Explaining the reason for the latest extension, Poklukar said the situation in the Middle East has not improved, instead it continues to escalate..

He does not expect any major issues during the summer travel season, like there were none during the Christmas holidays.

In a phone call the day before, his Italian counterpart Matteo Piantedosi told him the decision to extend the checks on the EU internal border again was in part the consequence of Italy's presidency of G7.

He promised that the border checks would be conducted so as to have a minimal effect on cross-border traffic and transport of goods.

Poklukar and Piantedosi agreed to meet in mid-June and expressed willingness to continue trilateral cooperation with Italy. Poklukar hopes the three countries will agree on joint border patrols to help control the external Schengen border in Croatia.

"This is one of the alternative measures so that the internal controls could then be abolished, both Italy's on the border with Slovenia and Slovenia's on the border with Croatia and Hungary, but this agreement has not yet been reached," he said, noting that it was now up to Croatia to make a move.

Poklukar finds that border checks have been effective; from October 2023 to 12 May the police handled over 26,000 cases of migrants crossing the border illegally, turning away more than 1,500 people who did not meet the conditions to enter Slovenia.

Austria has had police checks on its borders with Slovenia and Hungary in place since the refugee crisis in late 2015. It has recently decided to extend the measure until mid-November.

The latest available police statistics show the number of illegal migrants going up by 15% year-on-year to 13,571 from January to the end of April. Syrian citizens, who accounted for more than a third of all cases, followed by nationals of Afghanistan and Morocco.

In the period the police apprehended 244 migrant smugglers. Only three were Slovenian citizens.


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