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State Secretary Lobnikar Defends The Removal Of The Fence From The Border. Do The Mayors Really Agree With This?

Branko Lobnikar, the Secretary of State at the Ministry of the Interior, has views that are shockingly aligned with those of the leftist Peace Institute (“Mirovni inštitut”) and, given Lobnikar’s unsubstantiated claims, he has apparently become an expert on border fences, especially the one in Hungary. And while the government assures on its website that “the Slovenian police will continue to ensure a high level of security for all citizens and people on the territory of our country,” this is more than obviously impossible, given the numerous incidents at the border, including the kidnapping of an 80-year-old man, the burning of a tent, the stoning of a fire engine and even the murder of a young policeman. On top of that, the majority of the mayors of municipalities that lie along the border are said to agree with the policy of “integration and acceptance” of illegal migrants, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs equates with ordinary migrants, but this is extremely hard to believe.

“Removing the razor wire from the southern border is the duty of a decent society, backed by both public opinion and the opinions of the mayors on the southern border. And the commitment of the police is to protect the lives and property of the population and to reinforce the sense of security even when the razor wire will no longer be at the border,” and “Fences at the border do not stop migration, but they make it much more dangerous – including for the local residents. The Hungarian fence is proof of that…” were two Twitter posts of the Secretary of State Branko Lobnikar, who apparently did not really check what he was talking about when mentioning the alleged ineffectiveness of the Hungarian fence, and even claimed that the mayors of the municipalities that lie along the southern border agree with the removal of the border fence. But are the mayors whose local communities are most exposed to the violence of illegal migrants really in favour of the fence being removed – for example, does the mayor of Ilirska Bistrica really agree with this?!

Europe, once the home of one of the most notorious walls, has in recent years become a leader in the construction of walls. Not only in Slovenia, border fences and walls can be found in 10 European countries, and all together measure more than six times the size of the Berlin Wall, according to a report by the Amsterdam-based Transnational Institute (TNI). Most of these structures were erected for security reasons, to safeguard international sovereignty and prevent the entry of those who wish to cross the border illegally and in a violent manner, which is something we have seen often since 2015, the year of mass migrations. And despite the fact that all these countries have erected a fence precisely to guarantee the security of their citizens, the new Slovenian government clearly wants to achieve the opposite because by removing the fence, it is literally offering Slovenia “on a platter,” not to mention their absurd statements such as “borders do not work, and migration is a constant and part of our reality.” When Austria erected the fence on its border with Slovenia in response to the crisis in 2015, even the then-Austrian Minister of the Interior, Johanna Mikl-Leitner, said that “a fence is not a bad thing. Anyone who has a house has a garden and a fence, which helps them decide who is allowed to come in and who would be kept out.”

The rhetoric is appropriate to the government’s goal – the destruction of Slovenia
But removing the fence is definitely the goal of the new government, so it is a fact that government workers will adapt their stories and rhetoric accordingly. However, they could do a little better in terms of the arguments to support their claims because it is nonsense to say off the top of your head that the fence on the Hungarian border is ineffective. The truth is that the number of illegal entries into Hungary has fallen sharply since the barrier was completed, because it has effectively eliminated entry into Hungary. Last year, the Hungarian authorities prevented more than 54 thousand people from crossing the border illegally and prosecuted more than 500 smugglers, György Bakondi, the chief Hungarian security adviser, told the foreign media at the time.

As well as the Slovenian Secretary of State’s statement about the ineffectiveness of the Hungarian fence, it is likely that his claims about the mayors on the southern border supporting the removal of the fence are also made up. This raises the question of whether the mayor of Ilirska Bistrica, Emil Rojc, who has repeatedly highlighted the dangers of illegal migrants in the local community over the years – from the mess they leave behind to the other threats they pose to the locals – really agrees with this. Let’s keep in mind that the problem of illegal migration in Slovenia is not something that just started happening today but has been going on for several years. It was already very present during the time of the Šarec government, which, back then, did not do enough to protect the locals.

Back then, Rojc had already made it clear where he stood on the issue of illegal migrants when he said: “It is unacceptable to me as a mayor that such a large number of migrants can walk around uncontrolled for several days in the vicinity of villages that are several times smaller in their number of inhabitants than the number of migrants is, who then camp in the nearby words. This is very questionable from a security point of view.” And Maja Kocjan, a representative of the Bela krajina Civil Initiative, agreed with Rojc, saying that “locals are increasingly fearful, especially in border villages where they are encountering migrants on a daily basis. The Šarec government has certainly not done enough to protect our residents in border municipalities. Measures which would actually be sufficient to make the population feel safe should be adopted urgently.”

In view of the latter, it is extremely difficult to believe anything Lobnikar said, as the main goal of both the fence on the border and the mayors of local communities is to protect their territory and its inhabitants, not to accept and integrate illegal and violent migrants into our society. Before you save the world, you should take care of your home first.

Tanja Brkić

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