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Prime Minister Janez Janša: Even under COVID rules, some activities that were affected last year can restart if well organised

After participating in the Croatian Tourism365 conference, where he took part in a panel of leaders together with the Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković, Prime Minister Janez Janša also held bilateral talks with his host. In a press statement after the meeting, the Prime Minister congratulated Croatia on a well organised event, as well as on its record-breaking tourist season, including the number of tourist arrivals from Slovenia this summer.

Prime ministers Janez Janša and Andrej Plenković talk to the press.

Prime ministers Janez Janša and Andrej Plenković talk to the press. | Author Kabinet predsednika vlade

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"This shows that even under COVID rules, some activities that were affected can be restarted if they are well organised. We expect to be able to launch the winter tourist season in the same way and look forward to welcoming Croatian guests," said the Prime Minister, adding that, as was also said at the conference, “Since both of our countries are in the EU, there are still many untapped opportunities in the field of tourism, where the summer and winter seasons can be combined."

"As Croatia has shown during the summer tourist season, in times of restrictions using the recovered/vaccinated/tested rule and digital certificates means that activities affected, halted or severely restricted just last year by the epidemic can start up once again," said the Prime Minister.

"On other matters we have continued a dialogue that not only covers bilateral issues, but also taking a position on important European topics, which is particularly important and valuable now as Slovenia leads the Council of the EU.There are a number of difficult dossiers on the table, around which we need consultations and also alliances of as many countries as to reach good compromises at the end of the day," the Prime Minister stressed. He also said that in terms of tourism that it was very important for Croatia to join the Schengen Area and the European Monetary Union as soon as possible, and that the two issues were not just a formality linked to the interests or efforts of both governments, but rather both were of direct interest to the citizens of both countries as well as to all EU member states, because these are issues that make life easier for everybody. And that means in terms of greater safety as well as the broader well-being.

Asked by journalists about the incident in which anonymous individuals used sticks to roughly chase migrants away from the Green Line and how Slovenia intends to tackle the problem of illegal migration, the Prime Minister said that for the time being, the border between the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Croatia was still the Schengen border. "This is not the external EU border. It is our ambition for the external EU borders and Schengen borders to be matched as soon as possible. It is irrational and unjust that countries, which have already met the conditions to enter the Schengen area, are still waiting for the political decision," commented the Prime Minister. In relation to the aforementioned incident he explained that he did not know the details and that the incident had not played any role at the last EU summit. "I do not remember anybody – neither the media nor the EU representatives – mentioning it. Unfortunately, such incidents still happen. Speaking of the EU, we still do not have the mechanisms we need to protect not only the Schengen, but also the external border. Right now going through the procedures is an act on migration linked to six other pieces of legislation . It features expansive and high quality regulation on Schengen and the protection of external European borders," said the Slovenian Prime Minister. He added that Slovenia was committed to making progress on these procedures and that it would be a huge success if at least some acts from this package were adopted. "It is vitally important to formalise a clear distinction between refugees and illegal migrants and that such distinction is respected at all external EU borders," stressed the Prime Minister.

Responding to the statement that Croatia is constantly under attack for its approach to illegal migration problems, the Prime Minister replied that "it is our goal to create a situation that will prevent illegal migration. Bosnia and Herzegovina should also take up its share of responsibility, because this problem cannot be solved or moderated by sending it elsewhere." He added that a major difficulty, which leads to a range of issues, is that in some countries the boundary between non-governmental organisations providing humanitarian aid to migrants and human traffickers is not clear. "In some countries, this is a rather coordinated activity. This year, Slovenian police worked on and destroyed 150 such networks. Not all of them were directly linked to non-governmental organisations, but some of them were. Great caution is required when dealing with such incidents, which can sometimes be intentionally made known to the public, even provoked, to disguise the criminal activity of human trafficking. The Balkan route itself produces a turnover of ten billion euro," said the Prime Minister.

Turning to people working in fisheries, the Prime Minister explained that he had discussed the issue with his Croatian counterpart today and that certain proposals had been put forward, but that it was too early to talk about solutions as yet. Nevertheless, he emphasised that addressing the needs of people involved in the situation is at the forefront.