Ambassador Geržina critical of Austria extending border control

Vienna – Slovenian Ambassador to Austria Aleksander Geržina has criticised Austria’s decision to extend checks on the border with Slovenia, telling the Austrian news agency APA that the measure had not been properly justified by the authorities in Vienna.

This week, Austria notified the European Commission that it was extending controls on its borders with Hungary and Slovenia for at least six months. The war in Ukraine was cited among the reasons for the decisions this time.

Austria introduced border controls in 2015 in the wake of the migrant crisis, and has been continuously extending the measure since.

In April, the EU Court of Justice said that a Schengen Area member state could reintroduce border control in the event of a serious threat to its public order or internal security, but should not exceed the maximum total duration of six months.

It may reintroduce the measure immediately after the end of this six-month period, but only if it faces a new serious threat that is different from the one originally identified.

“We very much regret this move,” Ambassador Geržina said, noting that crossing the border freely was very important for people and businesses on both sides of the border.

He added that restricting this fundamental freedom in the EU must be based on a risk assessment, and noted that Slovenia effectively controlled its Schengen border with Croatia, thus protecting the interests of citizens of other EU member states.

According to the APA, the ambassador also noted in an interview for today’s Die Presse that 67 years after the signing of the Austrian State Treaty, not all of its provisions regarding the rights of the Slovenian minority had been implemented.

He said that, if the provisions remained unimplemented, in 20 years the Slovenian ambassador to Austria will no longer deal with the Slovenian minority at all, as “it will no longer exist”.