Slovenian and Bosnian ministers discuss the migration situation in the Western Balkans
In a press statement after the meeting, Minister Boštjan Poklukar underlined the traditionally good relations between the two countries: "Bosnia and Herzegovina is our second most important economic partner in the region and the largest single recipient of Slovenian development assistance. Slovenia is a supporter and an ally of Bosnia and Herzegovina on its way to the EU and NATO. We are working at all levels to ensure that the European Council adopts a decision in December on the opening of Bosnia and Herzegovina's accession negotiations with the EU." On this occasion, Minister Poklukar also thanked Minister Nešić for the help that Bosnia and Herzegovina provided after the floods in Slovenia in August.
Cooperation with the Western Balkans is one of the priorities of the Republic of Slovenia. The Ministry of the Interior is working to strengthen the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries. "Close cooperation and exchange of information are of paramount importance for the successful handling of security challenges. The cooperation between the police authorities of the two countries is good in all areas," said Minister Poklukar.
The main topic of discussion was the complex migration situation in the Western Balkans. The ministers agreed on the need to work together to prevent irregular migration more effectively. "We discussed strengthening cooperation with police authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and improving the exchange of information and operational data between the two ministries and police forces. We agreed to step up police cooperation. Our aim is to set up a videoconference between the Slovenian Director General of Police and the Bosnia and Herzegovina police chiefs for an even faster exchange of information and data." We are also jointly stepping up activities to prevent smuggling and dismantle smuggling rings, as this is a problem faced by all countries on the Western Balkan migration route.
Minister Poklukar particularly stressed the need for Bosnia and Herzegovina to sign the status agreement with Frontex as soon as possible. "I hope the recently appointed negotiation team to be confirmed as soon as possible so that the negotiations to harmonise the agreement may begin. In my view, this is an important task for Bosnia and Herzegovina as it moves towards European standards and integration into the EU. Minister Nešić assured to commit hard to the signing of the agreement so that Frontex can start its mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina."
They also discussed visa policy for third country nationals in the Western Balkan countries. "I believe that here too, together with the European Commission, we will take a step forward."
"As you know, some of the countries have raised their security levels, including Slovenia, and we have introduced internal controls at the borders with Croatia and Hungary. We both agreed that we need to do all we can to prevent any threat of terrorism and radicalisation in our countries and in the region."
In the end Minister Poklukar added that the Slovenian Ministry of the Interior is working closely with a number of interior ministries and is active in international cooperation, announcing a working meeting with the Romanian minister next week. "I am confident that, together with our partners, both through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, we will address the security challenges in the region and Member States."