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Slovenian and Austrian Interior Ministers Discuss Migration

Minister of the Interior Vesna Györkös Žnidar met with her Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Sobotka on 10 October 2016. The main topic was migration and the ministers discussed the current situation, activities and measures with regard to migration and stepping up cooperation between countries in this area.

Györkös Žnidar emphasized good cooperation between the two countries, which is especially important at a time when the whole of Europe is faced with increased migration. After the closure of the Western Balkan migration route, migration has not entirely stopped; however, the situation in the region is still manageable for the time being. It is estimated that there are about 90,000 people in the whole of the Balkans, including Greece, and an increase in illegal migration has been recorded. As pointed out by the minister, in dealing with the migration issue, Slovenia has advocated solidarity and responsibility of all the countries in the region, not only in principle but also in the form of concrete measures and assistance.


Slovenia is a member of the Schengen area, which is one of the key achievements of the European Union. Therefore, it has to be in our common interest to preserve the Schengen area. Slovenia is aware of this and, in the absence of adequate European solutions, was forced to adopt some national measures both at the external border and inland, such as putting up temporary technical barriers and deploying the Slovenian army to the border with Croatia. Currently, amendments to the aliens legislation are being discussed.


Györkös Žnidar also opened the issue of border controls at the internal border between Slovenia and Austria, which are being carried out by Austria. She called the measure disproportionate and not justified by the current security situation and one that caused long delays for numerous EU citizens.


The ministers went on to discuss the new European Border and Coast Guard, which will have an important role in protecting external borders of the EU. As pointed out by the ministers, the conditions for effective protection of the external EU borders have thus been established.


The ministers agreed that solidarity is one of the key principles of the EU. Györkös Žnidar said that the concept of solidarity must include different forms, besides relocation also deployment of equipment, police officers and other assistance. Particularly small countries, such as Slovenia, must be able to choose lest the participation in projects should have a negative effect on the functioning or security of the country.

Minister Sobotka agreed that the cooperation between the countries is exemplary. He presented current conditions in Austria and their plans for when the quota of 37,500 international protection applications is reached. He said that concrete cooperation as regards police procedures needs to be intensified. He also presented concrete initiatives to efficiently cope with the migratory pressure. The ministers agreed that these initiatives should be given concrete contents in the following months at the expert level.


The ministers concluded their meeting by reiterating that uncontrolled influx of migrants into the EU is unsustainable. Therefore, Slovenia supports Austria’s efforts to devise a joint communication strategy at the EU level as this is the only way of ensuring long-term sustainability of the system and enabling the access to international protection to those individuals who urgently need it.