Slovenia is stepping up pressure on Croatia to improve policing of the EU’s external border amidst mounting concerns by locals living along the border about an almost three-fold increase in migrations, according to Interior Minister Bo?tjan Poklukar, who phoned his Croatian counterpart Davor Bo?inovi? on Wednesday.
Over the weekend, Poklukar visited the border area in Bre?ice municipality, where he heard locals complain about a huge number of migrants that made them feel unsafe.
Slovenia has already stepped up border control in the area, deploying additional police patrols, a helicopter and technical surveillance. Poklukar suggested that Croatia do the same and once again extend Slovenia’s offer to help protect the EU’s external border.
Bo?inovi? and Poklukar shared the view that alongside better border control, “continuous close cooperation of the countries’ police forces is important in the fight against people smuggling on the Western Balkans route,” the Slovenian Interior Ministry said.
They also agreed that the EU should “do more to prevent illegal migrations in source countries and should step up cooperation with partner countries.”
By the end of July, the Slovenian police recorded nearly 26,900 illegal border crossings, a significant increase over the 10,100 in the same period last year.
Afghanis account for 20% of illegal migrants, followed by Moroccans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshi and Russians. Over 70% of all illegal border crossings detected by the end of July took place on the territory covered by the Novo Mesto Police Department in southeastern Slovenia.
The Slovenian government is also under increasing pressure from the right-wing opposition, demanding that the army be deployed to the border once again and berating the government for its “inadmissible policy of open doors for migrants”.
Slovenian officials have so far refrained from any talk about reintroducing police checks on the border with Croatia.
(Sebastijan R. Ma?ek sta.si)
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