Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia introduce stricter rules on the Balkan migrant route.
The Slovenian Interior Ministry announced late Tuesday new rules for entry of foreigners into the country, which in effect means that the Balkan migrant route has been closed down. That was confirmed by Croatian Interior Minister Vlaho Orepić as well. He confirmed that Schengen rules will be applied on the borders, report tportal.hr, Večernji List and 24sata on March 9, 2016.
“There are changes to the border regime. Clearly, Europe has decided to enter a new stage of solving the migrant crisis. Europe came to the conclusion that the borders of the Schengen area have to use the Schengen rules. There is a regular regime at the border where people will be able to enter the Schengen area provided they have necessary documents. While Croatia is still not a member of the Schengen area, there is virtually no difference in measures that will be taken on the Croatian border with, for instance, Serbia”, said Orepić.
“It is important to assess the position of Croatia in all of this. The focus of problems which may arise from this decision are concentrated on the Macedonian-Greek border. There could be problems in that area. On our borders, we will not resort to any extraordinary measures. However, we are ready to respond if necessary”, said Orepić.
Slovenia introduced new measures starting on midnight. Slovenian Interior Ministry said that, under the new rules, Slovenian police would no longer implement the provisions agreed in a joint statement signed on 18 February by police directors of countries on the Balkan migrant route. Slovenian Interior Minister Vesna Gjerkeš Žnidar discussed the issue on Tuesday with her colleagues from Croatia and Austria.
Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar confirmed yesterday evening that his country has closed the border to all “irregular migrants”. Slovenia will admit only foreigners who have valid identity documents and Schengen visas, said Cerar for the Slovenian Television. Certain groups of asylum-seekers will also be able to enter. Conclusions of the summit between the EU and Turkey have created the preconditions to cease with the practice of creating internal borders within the European Union and setting up fences for migrants.
Cerar said that Slovenia would be able to eventually remove the fence on its border with Croatia. He added that it was difficult to assess when that may be possible, since it was necessary for Croatia to fulfil its obligations, control the border and stop possible illegal migrants who might appear at the border.
Serbian Interior Ministry announced on Tuesday night that, after Slovenia’s decision to close down the Balkan migrant route, Serbia will reciprocally apply similar measures on its southern and eastern borders. “Bearing in mind the new regime which has been applied by an EU member state, Serbia cannot afford to become a hotspot for refugees, so all measures will be harmonized with the European Union and applied on borders with Macedonia and Bulgaria.”
Bosnia and Herzegovina is ready in case migrants from Greece decide to change their plans after the closure of the Balkan route, said earlier Igor Crnadak, Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Maybe we will see the opening of new routes through Albania, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina towards Croatia”, he added. Crnadak said that they have started with the preparations for the arrival of these migrants in transit and for closing down the country’s borders.