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Minister Aleš Hojs hosts Italian Minister Luciana Lamorgese

The Minister of the Interior, Aleš Hojs, held a working meeting with the Italian Minister of the Interior, Luciana Lamorgese, at the Brdo Castle today. The Ministers agreed that the countries had a tradition of good cooperation in the area of home affairs. They discussed Slovenia’s preparations for the Presidency in the second half of 2021 and irregular migration.

Minister Hojs presented our priorities in the area of home affairs, which are integrated migration management, strengthening of the Schengen Area, and related to that, security in the EU and Slovenia, while the regional priority is the Western Balkans.

“We dedicated quite a lot of time to the migration issue as Slovenia and Italy are both under considerable irregular migratory pressure. We agreed that a common and comprehensive solution needed to be found at the EU level, and this, among other things, will be our focus during the Presidency,” the Minister said, before adding: “One of the first steps should be strengthening the mandate of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), which provides operational support to Member States. We will endeavour to find appropriate solutions and the Minister has assured me that, despite some different positions, we can count on Italy’s cooperation, which I am very grateful for.” The Ministers agreed that comprehensive migration management required addressing the root causes of migration and forced displacement, promoting return, and preventing migrant smuggling and human trafficking.

They also discussed the current migration situation in both countries and took a bird’s eye view of the border from a helicopter. The Minister presented to the Italian colleague the statistical data for Slovenia. During the period from 1.1.2021 to 30.4.2021, there were 1,642 attempts to illegally cross the border, compared to 2,413 in the same period of last year, which is a 32% decrease. During the same period, 550 individuals expressed the intention to apply for international protection, which is a 30% drop compared to the same period last year, when there were 820 such intentions.

“The Slovenian police and the Italian law enforcement authorities work very well together, and operational services regularly discuss and adapt forms of cooperation, which the Minister and I praised as a good practice. We also agreed to re-introduce mixed patrols at the Slovenian-Italian border, as well the border will be surveilled by drones.”

During the Slovenian Presidency, the main emphasis in the area of internal security will be on providing a high level of security in the EU, especially as a result of enhanced and more effective police cooperation. One of the most important dossiers at the EU level in this regard is amending the Europol Regulation. The Ministers agreed that Europol’s mandate should be strengthened, and when given new powers, this Agency would provide an even greater support to Member States, especially in analysing large databases, as well as have a stronger role in innovation and development of state-of-the-art policing tools.

One of the goals of the Slovenian Presidency is also a higher level of security in the Western Balkan region. “We want to step up police cooperation in partnership with these countries as well as exchange of information, particularly in the area of investigating and preventing child sexual abuse and missing persons,” the Minister said.

At the end, the Ministers also discussed the possibility of joint purchase of equipment for police officers.