Minister vows security to be ensured post-border fence removal

Metlika – Slovenian soldiers have started removing the razor wire that runs along the southern border with Croatia. The first segment of the wire was removed at a border crossing near Metlika (SE) on Friday afternoon. Amid and post the removal, security will be guaranteed in other ways, said Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar.

The wire fence has been a totally disproportionate measure, so the government decided to get rid of it, the minister said at the Krmačina border crossing.

Time has shown that no fence can prevent migration, but the razor wire on the border “has caused many a tragedy with people attempting to evade it and dying in and along the river Kolpa”.

Bobnar is aware that the removal of the fence will create new security challenges, but assures the public that the ministry has other means to ensure the security of the population, which it intends to use.

Active international cooperation with the police forces of Slovenia’s neighbouring countries is planned, for which bilateral meetings have already been announced.

The army is scheduled to remove between 150 and 200 metres of razor wire every working day until all the 51 kilometres of it are removed.

The removal of a panel fence will then follow, for which the ministry intends to public an open call. This part will be carried out in cooperation with the local community, as in some places the locals want the fence to remain, Bobnar said, adding it was hard to predict at this stage when the fence will be completely removed.

Acting Police Commissioner Boštjan Lindav was also on hand as the removal began. He told the press that both the erection and removal of the fence had not been a decision of the police, but that the police were adapting to these decisions and would continue to ensure a high level of security.

“Nobody has to fear for their security, the police are providing it to a very high degree,” he noted.

The wire fence will be replaced by changed tactics and methods, increased use of technical means, deployment of additional staff at the border and stepped-up international cooperation, Lindav said.

Bobnar dismissed the opposition’s allegations that no security assessment had been carried out regarding the removal. “A risk assessment has been prepared. We know how the migration flow is moving.” The number of migrants has indeed increased over the past year, “but the police are adapting their way of working and ensuring security”.

She warned that scaremongering against foreigners “is an unacceptable political manipulation” and rejection of people who are perceived as different. She also announced that asylum legislation would be amended so that anyone in need of international protection would receive it under a swift and efficient procedure.

Asked about the possibility of re-erecting the fence during her term in office, she said: “That is relative, but our intention now is clear. It’s to remove the razor wire first and then gradually, in cooperation with the local community, the panel fence.”