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Slovenia to introduce border checks with Hungary and Croatia due to violence in the Middle East

Slovenia will impose police controls on the state border with Hungary and Croatia for ten days from Saturday, according to Euractiv.

The reason for the increased control measures at the border is raised security risks due to organised crime and escalating tensions in the Middle East.

Law enforcement authorities report that a wave of organised crime is sweeping the Western Balkans. Police have noted that organised groups are becoming more interconnected and intertwined.

The government stated that members of various terrorist and extremist movements and groups were fleeing conflict escalation zones “to avoid the consequences of their actions or even with the intention of jeopardising our security and stability.” There is a risk of such criminals entering Slovenia illegally under the guise of migrants, the report said.

Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar claimed that the innovation would not affect the life of the inhabitants of the border regions. He assured:

My instruction to the police commissioner was to ensure normal life and normal crossing for people living along the border.

The minister apologised to all Slovenian residents for any inconvenience they might experience when crossing the border. He said the measure was necessary “because the terrorist threat in Europe is still high”.

The decision followed Italy’s introduction of a similar measure on its border with Slovenia from Saturday in the wake of rising crime in Europe and the Middle East.

Poklukar assured his Croatian counterpart Davor Božinović that Slovenia would adapt the measure to people living near the border and expected similar action from Italy. Poklukar said, noting that the border closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic had made life along the border “unbearable”:

I once again told Italian Minister Matteo Piantedosi that I want Italy to ensure the normal flow of people living along the border.

Additional border controls will be discussed at a meeting of the three interior ministers in Trieste in early November.

The introduction of police controls has long been discussed in the EU, although the government cites an increased risk of terrorism. For example, after Croatia joined the Schengen zone earlier this year and police controls were cancelled, there was a sharp increase in illegal migration. Croatia took the news without enthusiasm, with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković saying that checks should remain the exception and only be used as a last resort.

According to the latest police figures, Slovenian police have detained more than 48,000 illegal migrants, about three times as many as a year ago.

The border regime will be largely the same as it was before the cancellation of police checks. There will be 14 international border crossings: 12 on the border with Croatia and two on the border with Hungary, as well as small checkpoints open only to EU citizens.

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