Slovenia Sends 35 Police to Greece to Help Close EU Border, Military a Possibility

By , 05 Mar 2020, 11:09 AM Politics
Slovenia Sends 35 Police to Greece to Help Close EU Border, Military a Possibility

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STA, 4 March 2020 - Slovenia is deploying 35 police officers as part of a Frontex rapid border intervention team sent to Greece to help the country deal with an increased influx of migrants after Turkey recently decided to open its border with Greece, said Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar as he attended an informal EU ministerial on Wednesday.

After today's meeting, called due to the emergency situation at the Greece-Turkey border, Poklukar highlighted that the police officers were already preparing for the task.

He said that the EU's reaction to the developments had been very rapid compared to the 2015 crisis. Greece has been handling the situation well so far, he added.

A total of 530 members of Frontex, the EU border protection agency, have been already deployed to Greece, including two Slovenians. Frontex is expected to mobilise an additional hundred experts as well as necessary vehicles.

The agency has also activated its rapid border intervention team or RABIT, which will be used for the first time ever.

Should the pressure on the Greece-Turkey border continue to build up and Greece be no longer able to cope with the situation, the minister will propose to deploy military forces as well in line with a defence act article which gives additional powers to the armed forces in such circumstances. Soldiers have been already assisting the police on Slovenia's south border under the legislation.

The proposal would need to get the endorsement of two-thirds of MPs if sent to parliament. Poklukar added that he had been in contact with his colleagues in the EU and Western Balkans to stay on top of the situation.

He has told them that the current situation on the external Schengen border in Slovenia is under control due to the police's efforts and highlighted that in the case of no joint EU solutions, the country is adamant to protect its border against a new influx of migrants single-handedly using the police and armed forces.

Poklukar said that the ministers did not discuss any plans for relocating migrants from Greece today, adding that Slovenia had not yet received any formal proposal to accept unaccompanied refugee minors from the Greek islands either.

He also pointed out that Slovenia was hesitant about a migration relocation scheme for those rescued in the central Mediterranean, agreed by four EU countries last year, since the country had been already dealing with the Western Balkans migration route, masses of asylum seekers and limited capacities.

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