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Italy And Austria Extend Border Controls With Slovenia Due To Mass Migration

Mass migration remains a major problem for Slovenia. By the end of March this year, there had already been more than 60,000 illegal border crossings. Austria has announced an extension of border controls. Italy is also considering it.

Predictions that Slovenia could become a migrant pocket are increasingly coming true. For several years now, we have been facing an increase in mass migration. When the Golob government began to remove the protective fence on the southern border after taking power, it signalled to migrants on the heavily frequented Balkan route that they were welcome here. Our neighbouring countries have been closely monitoring developments in Slovenia and have acted accordingly to secure their borders, at least as far as possible, against migrants coming to them through Slovenia.

More and more migrants are staying in Slovenia. And their movement is not limited to asylum centres – they are free to roam around. This is also reflected in crime, theft, robbery and even sexual harassment. In addition to Austria, Italy has also reintroduced border controls and is now reportedly seeking to suspend the Schengen agreement with Slovenia. This would, of course, mean that there would be an even bigger pile-up of migrants in our country. Will the non-governmental organisations and left-wing politicians who demand open borders and “humane” treatment of migrants accept responsibility for all the migrant crimes that their anti-Slovenian policies enable?

Does Italy want to break the Schengen Agreement?

On the 4th of May, at the congress of the South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP) in Merano, Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said that Italy wants to break the Schengen Agreement with Slovenia, according to the Italian news agency Ansa. He said Italy had “asked for the suspension of the Schengen agreement with Slovenia,” citing the risk that terrorists coming from the Middle East might infiltrate Italy, mingling among the migrants and refugees that come to the Italian border via Slovenia. He added that Italy had “already taken such measures in the past for reasons of national security.” The Schengen Agreement, as we know, is an international treaty that abolishes border controls on goods and people. However, Schengen has already been damaged by mass illegal migration, with several countries partially reintroducing border controls. In addition to the fact that the suspension of the Schengen agreement with Italy – which, according to Minister Tajani, has already asked Slovenia to suspend the said agreement – would mean more crowds and longer queues at the border that many thought we had got rid of when we joined the Schengen area in 2007, such a development would, of course, also mean that potential terrorists would stay here.

Response of the Slovenian Ministry of the Interior

Following media reports on the statement by Italian Minister Tajani, we asked the Ministry of the Interior how they commented on his words. Three days after Tajani’s statement, we were told that no official communication from Rome had yet been received. “The Ministry of the Interior has not received any official notification from the Italian Ministry of the Interior on the extension of the surveillance at the Italian-Slovenian border,” was the official reply, adding that the surveillance was already being carried out by Italy at the Slovenian-Italian border crossings due to “the changed situation in Europe and the Middle East and the increased level of threat due to terrorism” is in force until the 18th of November. The Slovenian authorities also told the press that “the competent authorities in Slovenia, cooperating with neighbouring and European authorities, do not confirm the information on the passage of terrorists through Slovenia,” which was obviously a response to Tajani’s words and his reasons for wanting to terminate the Schengen Agreement with our country. At the same time, they added that they expected Italy to once again extend the imposition of internal controls at the border with Slovenia. “In this case, Slovenia’s response will be, as before, to extend internal controls at the borders with Croatia and Hungary.”

Left-wing MEP Nemec wants to abolish border controls at the southern border

Tajani’s words were met with a strong reaction from a Member of the European Parliament from the Social Democrats party (Socialni demokrati – SD), Matjaž Nemec. Instead of asking whether there might be something wrong with Slovenia’s migrant policy if a neighbouring country is even thinking of suspending the Schengen Agreement, he attacked Tajani’s words as a political strategy to rally support within Italy in the run-up to the upcoming European elections. MEP Nemec, a typical left-wing migrant lover, was also critical of Italy for signing an agreement with Albania to accept asylum seekers who are waiting for the relevant procedures to be carried out there. Italy reached an agreement with Albania at the end of last year and will build two reception centres in Albania for the identification and reception of refugees, which, according to Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, will be able to receive a total of up to 36,000 people a year. Nemec believes that Italy is thus only shirking its responsibility on migration and has decided to “export responsibility for managing migration policy to Albania.” Nemec has also expressed concern in the past that migrants’ human rights could be violated. Apparently, on the other hand, he is not too concerned about the human rights, well-being and safety of Slovenians and Slovenian women, who are already facing the dangers of mass migration, which will only intensify if the likes of him were to shape our political destiny. The most controversial part of his statement was that, after describing Tajani’s words as a threat to Slovenia, he called on Slovenia to respond to the possible suspension of the Schengen Agreement by Italy by not extending border controls with Croatia. As we have seen, the government has already said that if Italy extends controls on the Slovenian border, controls on our borders will also be extended. However, MEP Nemec obviously wants Slovenia to become a migrant pocket, which is just a reflection of a left-wing perception that is at odds with reality.

Extension of border controls

Italy, like Slovenia, is facing rising numbers of irregular migrants and illegal migrants year on year, but the situation in their country is even worse than here. That’s why on the 21st of October last year, Italy reintroduced temporary border controls with Slovenia. In addition to migration itself, this was also due to terrorism and organised smuggling of migrants. As we know, migrants accommodated in Slovenian asylum centres often tried to make their way to Italy. At the time, the Italian Minister of the Interior, Matteo Piantedosi, pointed out that Italy’s border with Slovenia was the entry point for migrants from the notorious Balkan route, and stressed that there were also masked jihadists and Islamic terrorists among them, which, he said, the Italian authorities had no intention of underestimating. The suggestion that Italy would extend controls was confirmed by Foreign Minister Tajani during his visit to Gorizia, when he caused quite a stir in public by saying that Schengen would be suspended. He said Italy was considering extending border controls because of the aforementioned threat of terrorist infiltration among migrants. The current controls will last until the 18th of June, and it is not yet known for how long Italy plans to extend them. Tajani added that it was only a question of ensuring the safety of Italian and European citizens, but that relations with Slovenia were otherwise excellent. Slovenia responded to the introduction of controls on the border to Italy last year by reintroducing controls at border crossing points with Croatia and Hungary, which will last until the 22nd of June. Many saw this move as something that was “too little, too late” in halting the tide of illegal migration.

Austria also extends border controls

Austria, which introduced border controls with Slovenia at the start of the major migrant crisis in 2015 and has been extending them ever since, has also decided to do so again. Last year, it extended controls until the 11th of May this year. Now, it has extended controls for another six months. The reasons for this are the migratory situation and the increased number of migrants on the Balkan route. The extension of border controls was announced by Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner when he visited the Špilje border crossing point, where one of the main topics was Austrian cooperation with Slovenian authorities. He said that the Špilje border crossing “illustrates how important it is to take strict and consistent action against illegal people smuggling.” Austria also controls its borders with Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary. However, as Minister Karner pointed out, such measures and increased surveillance are already having an effect, namely that migrant smugglers are already avoiding Austria. Thus, it seems that the borders of Austria and Italy will remain closed to migrants crossing into Slovenia, while Slovenia will become a migrant pocket.

Andrej Sekulović

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