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Poklukar proposes lifting of border controls and setting up of joint police patrols to Austrian colleague

Today, 13 September 2019, the Minister of the Interior Boštjan Poklukar hosted the Austrian Federal Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Peschorn. The two ministers discussed internal border controls and migration.

As the Ministers said in the press statement following the meeting, Slovenia and Austria are neighbours and friendly countries, whose ministries and police forces have traditionally cooperated well in the field of home affairs.

According to Minister Poklukar, there are no major open issues between the two countries − bar one. “I am referring to the situation at our common internal border, which we cannot be satisfied with. Controls at the common border have a negative impact on the inhabitants of both countries and cause economic damage. Long tailbacks at the border crossing points with Austria are a proof of that,” said Poklukar. The Ministers had an in-depth discussion about it and Poklukar put forward to his Austrian colleague the proposal “that Austria lift controls at the internal borders and we set up joint patrols.” According to Minister Peschorn “Austria will make a decision on border controls by mid-October.”

The Ministers also talked about the migration situation in both countries and the Western Balkans. In Slovenia illegal crossings of the state border have been on the rise for a fourth year in a row. But Minister Poklukar was adamant that “there are no reasons for concern. Slovenia is a safe country. The Slovenian police have the situation under control and use different measures to ensure efficient protection of the external Schengen border.”

Minister Peschorn warned that special attention had to be devoted to the Balkan migration route and that recent events in Greece and Turkey must lead to measures being taken to prevent smuggling and irregular migration. In this context he announced a discussion on possible measures at the November meeting of the Salzburg Forum member states.

The Ministers agreed that the surveillance of the EU external border needs to become even more effective. “I am aware of the huge pressure these countries are under. This is why Minister Peschorn and I talked about how our countries and the EU, particularly Frontex, could help the countries along the external EU border. We have, after all, just extended the Agency’s mandate for this purpose,” said Poklukar.

One of the key challenges faced in the efforts to manage migratory flows is migrant smuggling. “In this area we have to remain especially active and step up law enforcement cooperation between the countries and also with the EU agencies,” concluded Minister Poklukar.

High recognition of the work of the Slovenian Police

On the margins of the meeting, the Austrian Federal Minister of the Interior awarded medals on behalf of the President of the Republic of Austria to employees of the Slovenian police, Melita Močnik, Head of the Border Police Division of the General Police Directorate, and Marko Gašperlin, Assistant Director of the Uniformed Police Directorate of the General Police Directorate, for their extraordinary contribution to mutual cooperation in border management. Minister Poklukar and Director General of the Police Tatjana Bobnar congratulated the officers on the award.