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Slovenian Minister of Interior meets with Hungarian colleague

Minister of the Interior mag. Vesna Györkös Žnidar has met with Hungarian minister of the Interior dr. Sándor Pintér. The main topic of their meeting was migration.

Ministers predominantly discussed the current migration situation in the European Union and the region. Slovenian minister reassured the Hungarian colleague that its geographic position and location on the Western Balkans route makes Slovenia aware of the vital role cooperation and exchange of information play in dealing with the migration issues, as does active involvement of other countries. She underlined that efficient protection of both, external border and the Schengen area plays a vital role.

Slovenian minister also said that the Schengen border running on the Slovenian border is efficiently protected by Slovenian police officers, who also help protect borders in other countries, namely Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Hungary. She underlined that the Schengen area is one of the key achievements of the European Union and that member states should act accordingly and do everything in their power to protect it. Due to lack of European solutions to current issues, Slovenia has adopted national measures, a number of which are very unpopular with the citizens, namely the technical barriers on the border, and presence of Slovenian armed forces on the border with Croatia. Slovenia has also been finalising the amendments to the existing Aliens Act – which are to introduce temporary measures for current specific circumstances and determine how aliens who enter Slovenia illegally from another EU member state will be dealt with. Slovenian minister expressed her hopes that such events will not arise and the measures in question will not have to be put into practice, but simultaneously underlined that consistent implementation of Schengen legislation and efficient protection of Schengen border is Slovenia's duty, and responsibility the country is required to fulfil towards its citizens and all EU nationals. She added that transport of migrants through Slovenia as it took place in 2015 and early 2016 would now be unacceptable and impermissible.

Although Slovenia has recently been witnessing an increase of illegal border crossings on Croatian border, Slovenian police are fully in control of the situation, thus providing efficient protection of the entire Schengen area. In practice, this shows in a minimum number of illegal migrations from Slovenia to other European countries, which gives another reason why the minister informed her Hungarian colleague that Slovenia disagrees with introduction of border control on internal border between Slovenia and Austria. She explained that the measure is unjustified and disproportionate and causes undesired traffic delays on the border, which leads to discontent among the travellers, who are predominantly EU citizens and whose right to free movement is affected by the given measure.

Slovenian minister also took the opportunity to note that despite the small size and limited capacities, Slovenia supports and actively implements EU's project for relocation of persons requiring international protection. She nevertheless understands the position of the V4 Group of countries on flexible solidarity, which can be provided in a number of ways. She agreed that relocation alone cannot solve the issue of migration and only represents a part of the overall European solution, adding that relocation measure should be paired with consistent returns of those not entitled to international protection. In Slovenia’s opinion, the strengthened European Border and Coast Guard could play an important role in this aspect, as well as in protection of external EU borders. Slovenian minister also expressed her expectation for the Agency to be efficient and responsive, with operations clearly focusing on the external borders, while the member states will have to actively and timely provide Agency’s staff and other support.