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Slovenia’s appeal helps abolish certain visa-free regimes for entry to Serbia

In recent months Slovenia has called upon the European Commission and partner countries in the Western Balkans several times to align the visa regimes of countries in the region – especially Serbia – with the EU visa policy. Large numbers of illegal border crossings are now being made by nationals of third countries who have not been part of previous migration flows. These are above all being made by citizens of India, Burundi and Cuba, who entered Serbia legally and then illegally entered EU countries, including Slovenia.

This is why we welcome the move by the Serbian Government, which adopted the decision to cancel the visa-free regime for Burundi and Tunisia during yesterday’s session. From now on, citizens of these countries will require visas to enter Serbia. This move by our partner country Serbia means it is aware of its responsibility in dealing with migration flows. Only if we work together can we curb illegal border crossings.

The state of migration in the EU – especially along the Western Balkan migration route – is a constant topic of discussion at various forums. In recent times attention has focused on the Western Balkans, especially in connection with the misalignment of visa regimes of countries in the region with the EU visa regime.

In the last few months we have appealed to the European Commission on a number of occasions to act as soon as possible. Our last appeal was in the form of a letter sent by our Minister of the Interior Tatjana Bobnar at the meeting of EU interior ministers on 13 and 14 October in Luxembourg, and at yesterday’s conference on the Berlin Process. Minister Tatjana Bobnar called upon the European Commission and the European External Action Service to identify as soon as possible how the EU can actually help in Burundi and other countries of origin, particularly in combatting traffickers, in upholding human rights, and in providing support for development.

In the first nine months of this year the largest number of illegal border crossings were made by citizens of Afghanistan, India and Burundi. There were almost 4,000 citizens of India and Burundi alone, making up roughly 25% of the total number. In contrast, last year there were hardly any migrants from these countries (a total of only 42).