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EU interior ministers mainly on migration in Brussels

Minister of the Interior Boštjan Poklukar attended a meeting of the Justice and Home Affairs Council in Brussels.

The morning session focused mainly on migration, in particular on its external dimension. Higher numbers of irregular arrivals into the EU were expected following the recent events in our immediate neighbourhood, resulting from political instability and natural disasters. "The consequences of natural disasters should be addressed as soon as possible, otherwise migration flows may increase even further," said Poklukar. He added Slovenia was aware of the scale of the problem faced by Italy and welcomed the Commission's plan to support Lampedusa.

"The EU should also pay attention to other routes, especially the Western Balkan route," stressed the Minister. The action plan for the Western Balkans needs to be further implemented and the surveillance of EU's external borders further strengthened, including through Frontex. Poklukar added "Slovenia has done its job of external border surveillance properly and we expect others to do the same." We are awaiting with interest the sixth report under the visa suspension mechanism. In this context, we urge our partners in the Western Balkans to align their visa policies with the EU as soon as possible.

On the margins of the meeting, the Slovenian Minister met his Croatian counterpart, Davor Božinović. In an open discussion, they agreed to further strengthen cooperation between the police forces of the two countries, namely through mixed patrols, additional technical means, and enhanced compensatory measures including specially trained police officers. They agreed on the need for the countries in the region to engage more actively in migration management. They addressed a joint initiative to Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, urging the European Commission to push for the conclusion of a status agreement between the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) and Bosnia and Herzegovina as quickly and effectively as possible. They also agreed that the interior ministries of Slovenia and Croatia would act in a united and coordinated manner towards the European Commission and third countries, as they work together to ensure that all stakeholders are actively involved in improving the situation in countries of origin and third countries along the migration route. Poklukar expressed his expectation that the police chiefs of the two countries will meet shortly to agree on further operational cooperation.

The ministers spent a working lunch and the afternoon session discussing the cooperation with Latin America in the fight against organised crime and drug trafficking. The agenda also included the extension of temporary protection for displaced persons from Ukraine, which Slovenia supports.