Refugee crisis starting to escalate?
Late yesterday evening, the Slovenian parliament approved by a two-thirds majority a provision in the Law on Defence which allows the government to use regular army with some of the police powers in the areas near the border. After a long debate, 69 MPs voted in favour, while 5 MPs from the opposition United Left voted against, report Index.hr, Večernji List and Jutarnji List on February 23, 2016.
The army will protect the border with Croatia, which is at the same time the external Schengen border, at those sections where the wire fence has not been put up. It is supposed to prevent the uncontrolled influx of migrants and their crossing of the so-called green border. The army members will participate in mixed patrols with members of the border police. The army received special powers for three months, with the possibility of further extension if migration crisis continues.
Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar said on Monday that such powers for the military in the current crisis were not an exceptional case in the European Union, since similar measures have been adopted by Italy and Austria.
Opposition leader Janez Janša said that Slovenia did not have enough troops to protect the green border from illegal crossings and suggested that the army and police should receive an increased budget in order to further develop their ability to act. It is assumed that the task of border protection will require a maximum of 800 soldiers. Prime Minister Cerar said that Slovenia would continue to treat migrants humanely, but that it must protect its own national interests and the external borders of the Schengen area.
In other refugee related news, Afghan migrants on their way to northern Europe still cannot enter Macedonia through the Idomeni border crossing in northern Greece. Macedonians say that Serbia had decided to close the Balkan route for the citizens of Afghanistan, although Serbia is denying it.
In early November, Macedonia began allowing the entry only to Afghans, Syrians and Iraqis, but has now introduced more stringent criteria. On Monday, thousands of migrants have been stranded near Athens and near the northern border, since the Macedonians allow only Syrians and Iraqis to cross their border. In the port of Piraeus there are more than 4,000 Afghan refugees, while near the border with Macedonia there are almost 5,000 people waiting.
State Secretary in the Serbian Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare Nenad Ivanišević announced in Subotica near the Serbian border with Hungary that they will put up signs in the languages used by migrants that will direct them to the location of the temporary reception centre in that city, which has again started filling up with refugees in the last few days.
During the night, about 60 migrants from Šid have been brought there, after the Croatian police did not let them enter Croatian territory. They will remain in the Subotica reception centre until further notice. At the same time, Hungarian police arrested 150 migrants who had cut through the border fence in several places in an attempt to illegally enter Hungary from Serbia.