In order to limit the influx of refugees and migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa heading for western and northern Europe, additional measures along the Slovenia-Croatia border are not ruled out if Croatia fails to honour the agreement from Brussels, Slovenian Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec said in an interview with Slovenian television on Monday.
Erjavec rejected a proposal recently put forward by Croatian Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic that Croatia transport refugees and migrants from eastern Croatia directly to Sentilj, on the border with Austria, if Slovenia had problems with their registration and transport.
Erjavec said that this was not an option because it would mean that Slovenia did not comply with the Schengen rules and that it had to coordinate its efforts with Austria which was letting through fewer and fewer migrants.
“With its actions Croatia proves that it is getting further away from the Schengen area. It should keep its recipes to itself, we see that it has a lot of problems with the refugees,” Erjavec said.
He said that it was not ruled out that in the coming days Slovenia would tighten controls on its border with Croatia and reduce the number of entry points for migrants, particularly if Croatia failed to adhere to what was agreed in Brussels on Sunday.
Erjavec said that the EU was offering Slovenia assistance in protecting the Schengen border and that Ljubljana was expecting police officers from Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany as early as this week.
Slovenia refused to take in more migrants or set up hot spots for them because it is not a Balkan state but a Central European state and a member of the Schengen area although it lies along the Balkan migrant route, the minister said.
He said that declaration of a state of emergency in Slovenia was an option if the migrant crisis escalated and was not resolved soon.
The Slovenian government’s chief coordinator for migration, Bostjan Sefic, told Slovenian television that Slovenia would try to close the entry point for migrants at Rigonce, on the border with Croatia, in the coming days in order to reduce the number of migrants in the Brezice area where they are registered before being sent on to Austria.
He said that a slightly different operational procedure could be expected on the border with Croatia and if Croatia complied with the deal “the system should be functioning well” because the registration of migrants in Slovenia would be faster.
Sefic said that contact points would be established with the countries that attended the mini summit on the migrant crisis along the Balkan route in Brussels on Sunday, adding that the Slovenian Ministry of the Interior would report on the situation on a weekly basis and pass the information on to Brussels.