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Šefic: Migration needs to be regulated, safe and controlled

The second meeting of interior ministers from central Mediterranean countries, which was held on 23 and 24 July 2017 in Tunis, was attended by State Secretary Boštjan Šefic.

Participating in the meeting were interior ministers or their representatives from Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Estonia, Malta, Niger, Chad and Mali, as well as representatives of the European Commission, headed by Dimitris Avramopoulos, European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The main topics of the meeting were collaboration in combating illegal migration and trafficking in human beings, and assistance to the most affected countries, especially Libya.

 

The migration flux along the central Mediterranean route to Italy and other EU member states has increased, with 20% more arrivals recorded till mid-June 2017 than during the same period last year. Most migrants attempting the central Mediterranean crossing still set sail from Libya. Slovenia welcomes the EU measures to curb irregular migration along that route and to reduce pressure at the external border.

 

State Secretary Šefic stressed the effective management of migration is a key task for all countries, in order for migration to be safe, regulated and controlled. "The current chaotic situation serves no one: countries of origin are suffering a brain drain, people are dying at sea, transit countries are struggling to provide shelter and support to migrants, and countries of destination are facing the pressure on the labour markets and social security systems, as well as increasing xenophobia and a nationalist discourse. Collaboration is crucial, yet countries have to better control their borders and counter human trafficking networks. This is the only way to reduce the migratory pressure and the number of casualties both on land and at sea", said Šefic.

 

Return and readmission are significant aspects of migration. Slovenia supports the solutions of the EU in this area. Šefic emphasized the need to continue an active political dialogue, which will facilitate collaboration at the operational level, not just between institutions responsible for migration, but also between law enforcement agencies. "Security challenges posed by unregulated and uncontrolled migration flows should not be disregarded", Šefic added and underlined a prominent role played by international organisations such as the UNHCR and the IOM, whose actions have already produced positive results.

 

Šefic assured Slovenia supports Italy's migration measures and will continue to make every effort to help with relocation of persons seeking international protection, as well as by taking part in the EU Infrastructure Trust Fund for Africa and in operation Sophia. It might even consider to send its patrol boat Triglav to assist Italy with migrants as in 2015 and 2016, should the need arise.

 

In their Tunis declaration, the ministers committed to address the root causes of irregular migration, to strengthen action on and collaboration in countering human trafficking, and to improve return and readmission mechanisms.

 

Last March in Rome, in response to the developments along the central Mediterranean route, Italy's interior minister organised a meeting of interior ministers from Austria, France, Italy, Malta, Germany, Slovenia, Switzerland and partner countries of Libya and Tunisia. The participants committed to engage in a continuous dialogue, establish close collaboration and a regular exchange of views, following the system established in 2015 among the countries along the Western Balkans migration route. At the same time, a special contact group was set up, consisting of the ministers from the countries mentioned above, the European commissioner for migration, home affairs and citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, and the high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Federica Mogherini. The group makes it possible for the main transit countries to take part in managing mixed migration flows along the central Mediterranean route.