The Slovenia Times

Slovenia could start building fence immediately if need be


The National Security Council session was called to debate Slovenia's response to the refugee crisis, including the possibility for stepping up measures to protect the border should the flow of refugees persist unabated.

Cerar explained the debate was held as the government gets ready to debate on Thursday possible measures for upgrading border security if the EU approach fails.

He reiterated that Slovenia is waiting to see if the commitments adopted at the EU-Balkans summit in Brussels on Sunday will be implemented by all affected parties first.

The country's officials have said in recent days that the country was willing to wait several days to gauge implementation of the agreed measures.

"But if the commitments are not respected, this will be proof that EU policy is not working and it will prompt Slovenia to step up measures on the border."

As part of a broad EU solution, Slovenia has called for bolstered border security on the EU's external borders in an effort to stem the flow of refugees across the border between Greece and Turkey.

The prime minister said that while being ready to upgrade its border security at any moment, Slovenia was still reserved about building a fence "because we're against a Europe of walls".

But its hand will be forced by a failure in the EU response, which will necessitate action to "protect our citizens, law and order".

Other measures are also being considered in addition to a fence, including giving the army police powers to protect the border and calling in army reserves.

Border security will also be upgraded with the arrival of EU police reinforcements. Five German police offers were due to join on Monday the eight Austrian officers who have been helping Slovenian police on the border with Croatia.

The agreement on Sunday envisages an additional 400 EU police being sent to Slovenia. An Interior Ministry spokesperson said this group is expected to be activated next week.

Other forms of international cooperation is also being mulled, said Cerar, including "cooperation as part of NATO or in some other form" as a means of securing logistical support.

Slovenian officials have explained in recent days that border barriers being considered would serve to focus the flow of refugees to designated entry points and that Slovenia would not employ a Hungary-style razor wire and wall response to completely seal off the border.

This was echoed by Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec ahead of the session of the National Security Council, who assessed that it was unlikely the refugee flow would abate in the coming days.

An important factor as Slovenia weighs up measures to bolster border security will be the difference in the number of refugees arriving in Slovenia and leaving the country.

After Austria announced today that it would resort to erecting barriers near its border crossings, Slovenia needs to monitor what effects this will have on the numbers of refugees in the country, the minister suggested.


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