STA, 1 July 2019 - The Slovenian and Italian police forces will be jointly patrolling the countries' border as of Monday in a bid to control illegal migration. The measure taken under an agreement signed by Slovenia and Italy is expected to be implemented until 30 September.
According to the Slovenian General Police Administration, four joint patrols a week are planned, three on the Slovenian side of the border and one on the Italian side.
The patrols will be carried out in sections where frequent illegal crossings of the border are detected, and will feature officers from the Koper and Nova Gorica police departments.
Police will be active along the green border and on former border crossings but Marjan Štubljar of the General Police Administration told the press today that "this is definitely not a restoration of border checks" and will not effect passengers.
The police said that in addition to the operational value, the mixed patrols are expected to produce indirect results, such as faster exchange of information and learning the terrain in the neighbouring country for cases of cross-border pursuit.
The measure is also a clear signal to traffickers of illegal migrants that entry to another country does not mean that procedures would not be launched against them in the country which they fled.
The patrols will be led by the home officers and the visiting police officers will only be able to use firearms for the purpose of self-defence.
The Slovenian police have already participated in this way with Austria and Hungary, while Italy already has mixed patrols with Austria, Switzerland and France.
Slovenian police handled 5,306 crossings of the border by 29 June this year after the figure reached 3,612 in the same period in 2018. Italian authorities returned 146 foreigners to Slovenia by 29 June this year (158 in same period in 2018), mostly citizens of Afghanistan, Algeria and Pakistan.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said on Thursday that, if the mixed patrols failed to prevent illegal migration, Italy would erect physical obstacles on the border with Slovenia.
The measure was first proposed by Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar to Italian counterpart Enzo Moavero Milanesi in mid-May as the number of migrants coming from the Balkans to Italy through Slovenia has been increasing.
Cerar said he thus wanted to show to Italy that Slovenia wanted to strengthen mutual trust, and the idea was also discussed and agreed on shortly after that by the countries' police commissioners.