Over EUR 31 million spent on Croatia border surveillance

Ljubljana – Slovenia spent almost EUR 31.5 million on setting up fences and on other costs related to the increased surveillance of its border with Croatia between November 2015 and the end of 2020, as 85.5 kilometres of razor wire fences were installed along the border, and are now gradually being replaced by panel fences.

The government has provided this piece of information in response to a question from Matej T. Vatovec, an MP for the opposition Left who believes the purchase and installation of the razor wire fences was completely non-transparent and riddled with suspicion of corruption and clientelism.

In its reply, the government says that Slovenia’s Agency for Commodity Reserves spent just under EUR 6.9 million in 2015 and 2016 for setting up razor wire fences at the border, while no additional barriers of such kind were planned.

It further explains that the border is also protected with panel fences, which are gradually replacing the razor wire ones. A total of EUR 21.3 million has been spent for setting up these fences, with the Agency for Commodity Reserves recording the highest spending – EUR 16.8 million – since July 2018.

The cost of maintaining the razor wire fences from amounted to almost EUR 700,000, while just under EUR 9.4 million was spent over the same five-year period for signposts, cameras and other border surveillance equipment. Part of the funds was also allocated for compensation due to land use constraints caused by the fences.

A further gradual replacement of a 50-kilometre-long section of razor wire fences with panel fences is currently planned, along with potential urgent placements of panel fences in areas where no barriers are currently in place.

Due to the confidentiality of the information, the government has refused to disclose whether Slovenia intends to erect more barriers along the entire border with Croatia, or perhaps even along the border with another country.

It has also rejected Vatovec’s claims that technical barriers and excessive border surveillance cause unnecessary deaths and worsen the situation on the ground.

The government adds that no deaths have been reported so far as a direct result of the razor wire fence, and that they have no plans to remove any barriers, as illegal migration pressures are still an issue.

In the area covered by the Novo Mesto Police Department in the south and south-east of the country, ten cases of deaths during attempts to cross the border into Slovenia illegally have been documented between 2018 and 2020, all of which involved a person drowning while crossing the border river Kolpa.

In addition, Slovenian police officers detected 1,465 offences related to illegal crossings of the border between 2015 and 2020, with the number of arrests in such cases increasing year on year.

Although the police had received nature conservation guidelines regarding the razor wire fences, 47 wild animals have died due to entanglement in wire since 2015.