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Austria Lifts Border Controls With Slovakia, But They Remain In Place On The Border With Slovenia

After long-standing warnings about the misguided migration policies of the Robert Golob government, which decided to tear down border fences despite the increase in the number of illegal border crossings, the concerns have been confirmed by the decision of our northern neighbour Austria, which has decided to lift the border controls with Slovakia, which it temporarily introduced last September, but border controls remain in place at the border with Slovenia.

“Austria is lifting controls at the border with Slovakia, but controls remain at the border with Slovenia to prevent illegal migration. The “successes” of Golob’s removal of the Slovenian army and the demolition of the fence on the border with Croatia. And the “core Europe” orientations of Tanja Fajon, who is now visiting – Uzbekistan …!” were the words used to criticise the actions of the ruling party by the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) MP Branko Grims, who has long been drawing attention to the issue of migration and the importance of effective control of national borders.

Slovakia has made progress in the fight against migrant smugglers, according to Austria and the Czech Republic

The Austrian Minister of the Interior has decided to lift temporary border controls on the border with Slovakia as of Monday. The same decision has been taken by the Czech Republic, which has used up four of the six months it has been allowed to impose temporary border controls at the internal border of the Schengen area. Slovakia was critical when Austria and the Czech Republic decided to introduce border controls. However, both countries now state that the fight against people smugglers in Slovakia has improved. Since the end of September last year, 24 people smugglers operating from Slovakia have been arrested in the country, according to the Austrian Interior Ministry.

In light of the lifting of border controls with Slovakia, Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner stresses that the fight against people smugglers remains one of the most important tasks. “Instead of controls at the border with Slovakia, more attention will be paid to controlling the border area in coordination with the neighbouring country,” Slovenian Press Agency reports, adding that Austrian authorities will use mobile patrols and drones to do so.

While Austria, Hungary and Serbia are jointly stepping up surveillance and taking action against illegal migrants, the Golob government is tearing down the protective fence and has already withdrawn the Slovenian Armed Forces from the border. “This is a blatant betrayal of Slovenia’s national interests and a deliberate destruction of Slovenia,” MP Grims warned at the end of January. Our northern neighbour does not seem to be too happy with the efforts of the Slovenian government, which sees itself as effective in tackling the migrant problem, as controls on the Austrian border with Slovenia remain in place.

In the context of the migration crisis, Austria reintroduced controls on its border with Slovenia in mid-September 2015 and has since extended them. For the period from the 16th of May 2016 to the 10th of November 2017, our northern neighbour relied on four successive EU Council recommendations, and for the period from the 11th of November 2017, it decided on its own initiative to reintroduce controls at its borders for several consecutive six-month periods.

The fact is that 32,024 unauthorised border crossings were processed in Slovenia in the period from the 1st of January 2022 to the 31st of December 2022. This is an increase of 214 percent, compared to the comparable period in 2021, when 10,198 unauthorised border crossings were processed. The most frequently processed were nationals of Afghanistan, Burundi and India. However, we must, of course, bear in mind that the police record 15 or maybe 20 percent of the actual crossings, which means that there were significantly more illegal crossings that we do not even know of. Nor should we ignore the warning of Andrej Rupnik, former director of the Slovene Intelligence and Security Agency and an expert on security issues, who warned in the Delo newspaper some time ago that Croatia’s entry into the Schengen area increases the risk that Slovenia will become a migrant pocket. “Only in Slovenia do we hear that the fence does not work and is superfluous,” Grims has repeatedly criticised. And he is far from being the only one who thinks so. But the Golob government is doing things differently.

Sara Kovač

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