Minister Poklukar stresses the importance of enhanced cooperation in Trieste
"I am pleased that today we have made a thorough assessment of the cooperation of all three countries in the field of home affairs," said Minister Poklukar in a press statement at the end of the meeting, praising Italy's initiative to organise the meeting.
The Ministers particularly focused on the Western Balkan migration route, which passes through all three countries on the way to the destination countries of the European Union. "We had in-depth discussions on how to work together in this format to help individual Western Balkan countries to prevent illegal border crossings even more effectively." The Ministers also addressed the accession of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area. According to Minister Poklukar, Slovenia believes that both countries fulfil the conditions for entry into the Schengen area and will contribute to more effective protection of the EU's external borders. The Ministers also discussed the visa policy of some Western Balkan countries towards third-country nationals, noting that there is a link between visa regimes and migration, as the number of irregular entries of certain nationalities has decreased since Serbia introduced visas for them last year. "This is where the European Commission will have to do its homework. We all want to prevent third-country nationals from entering individual countries in the Western Balkans for tourism reasons and then illegally crossing the borders of EU Member States. Here is our firm commitment to address this issue more effectively," said Minister Poklukar.
They talked about the presence of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as this initiative has been on the table for some time. According to Minister Poklukar, Frontex is an EU police force that is very effective in protecting the borders of the European Union, including in the Western Balkans. "The Minister of Security of Bosnia and Herzegovina is coming to Slovenia next week and we will discuss the conclusions of today's meeting with him. I believe that we will be successful, since this is about the security of the Western Balkan countries, which is ultimately the security of the whole of Europe."
Another important issue discussed today was the internal controls imposed by Italy and Slovenia in recent days in response to the terrorist threat, which is still extremely high in some EU countries, and medium in Slovenia. It is a risk to which we must have a response, according to Poklukar. And the response lies particularly in the exchange of police information and the cooperation of all interior ministers in the region. "Once the terrorist threat is somewhat reduced, we would like to see the lifting of controls at internal borders and a return to compensatory measures and normal policing, which will be just as effective," Minister Poklukar pointed out.
Today, the Ministers exchanged a number of measures and proposals, one of which is enhanced police cooperation. They agreed that the Directors General of the police forces of the three countries should meet at least once a month by video link to exchange information. "Effective exchange of police information allows all police forces in the region to act more quickly, and that is what we want", said Mr Poklukar.
One of the conclusions of today's discussion was that all three countries should work together more effectively in joint patrols. "The initiative is perfectly legitimate and appropriate, but the details of how such a system would work in practice need to be agreed operationally." The Ministers also agreed to set up a joint coordination centre of the Croatian, Italian and Slovenian police forces to exchange information and cooperate even more efficiently. "The police cooperation that all three ministers are talking about is extremely important. Only swift action and a rapid flow of information will make it possible to dismantle criminal groups making money by smuggling foreigners across state borders. Each individual country is effective in this respect, and I believe that together we can do even better," said Minister Poklukar.
The Ministers agreed to continue such meetings in the future. Slovenia proposed a meeting in March 2024 in Slovenia in the framework of the Brdo Process, which also brings together the interior ministers of the Western Balkan countries.