STA, 14 October 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša, his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban and Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman addressed a ceremony in the north-east of the country on Wednesday launching construction of a power line that will link the three countries.
The 80-kilometre power line between Cirkovce near Ptuj and Pince on the border with Hungary will establish a link between the Hungarian and Slovenian national grids and consequently Croatia's.
The EUR 150 million project has been almost two decades in the making, mainly due to lengthy zoning procedures.
Janša noted that it took ten times as long to prepare the project as it would to build it; ELES, the national grid operator, expects for the 2x400 kV power line to be linked internationally by the end of 2021 with the project to be fully completed with final details by the end of 2022.
[FOTO] [VIDEO] @JJansaSDS ob otvoritvi začetka izgradnje daljnovoda Cirkovce-Pince: Samo politična povezava, brez energetskih in infrastrukturnih povezav, je mrtva črka na papirju.https://t.co/JqapgFEXpY pic.twitter.com/RuT1UvuWbv— Vlada Republike Slovenije (@vladaRS) October 14, 2020
"Unfortunately, we have terrible difficulties in Slovenia when it comes to the speed of development projects and their siteing, not so much with construction as with red tape," Janša said, adding that the project should serve as a further encouragement that procedures should never again take that long.
He said the power line was of exceptional importance not only for Slovenia but for a broader region despite the fact that electricity was being taken for granted, just like health before one got sick.
He thanked those responsible in Hungarian and Croatian institutions for making the project possible, praising excellent cooperation between the three countries during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic in spring.
Orban labelled today's event as historic, not only because of the energy link between the two countries, but also because of a vital moment between the nations.
He said Central Europe was gaining on significance as the centre of development was moving eastward. "The EU is not just a German-French matter, it's also links between the countries that are gaining on value, which is making them a site of geopolitical games and interests of the big ones," said Orban.
He underscored energy policy and cooperation in the field as an important aspect that boosts the region's position. He predicted a further step in that direction as Slovenia and Hungary agree enhancing their gas pipeline and rail links.
The Croatian foreign minister said the power line construction was in the interests of the whole EU as the bloc sought to strengthen infrastructure links in Central Europe.
He said additional steps would be needed in the future to make the energy system reliable in the long term because the role of the sector would be vital for the EU's economic recovery.
ELES boss Aleksander Mervar said the power line would create the first cross-border link with Hungary's grid, thus increasing the system's reliability.
The project is valued at about EUR 150 million, of which EUR 50 million will come in EU funds.
After the ceremony, Janša and Orban met over working lunch for discussion on bilateral matters, topical EU issues and the coronavirus pandemic.
STA, 9 September 2020 - Slovenia has lost another case targeting its neighbour as the General Court of the EU dismissed its appeal to annul the European Commission's delegated regulation that allows Croatian wine producers to use Teran, the name of a red wine protected by Slovenia, on their wine labels. The decision was met with frustration and blame game at home.
Under the derogation granted to Croatia in 2017, the designation Teran may be used to refer to a wine grape variety on the labels of wines produced in Croatia, but only for the designation of origin Hrvatska Istra and on condition that Hrvatska Istra and Teran appear in the same visual field and that the font size of the name Teran is smaller than that of the words Hrvatska Istra.
Slovenia had Teran, a red wine traditionally produced from the Refosk grape grown in the region of Kras, recognised as a protected designation of origin (PDO) in 2006.
In challenging the regulation, Slovenia raised its retroactive effect, alleging infringement of the second subparagraph of Article 100 (3) of Regulation No 1308/2013, which is the legal basis of the contested regulation, and infringement of the principles of legal certainty and the protection of legitimate expectations.
The third paragraph of Article 100 reads: "Where the name of a wine grape variety contains or consists of a protected designation of origin or a protected geographical indication, that name shall not be used for the purposes of labelling agricultural products."
The second subparagraph says: "In order to take into account existing labelling practices, the Commission shall be empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 227 laying down exceptions from that rule."
The court found that the Commission had indeed applied the subparagraph concerned retroactively - it took effect on 1 January 2014 - but said the regulation pursued an objective in the public interest, which made it necessary for it to be given retroactive effect.
It said the objective pursued by the contested regulation was "to protect legal labelling practices existing in Croatia on 30 June 2013" when the country joined the EU, and "resolve the conflict between those practices and the protection of the Slovenian PDO Teran".
The court also held that Slovenia failed to prove the Commission failed to have regard to the principles of legal certainty, the respect for acquired rights and the protection of legitimate expectations by giving retroactive effect to the contested regulation.
The court fully upheld the Commission's arguments that Teran was also a grape variety in Croatia so the exception was possible under EU rules to use the name without affecting Slovenian Teran wine producers, who preserve exclusive PDO rights.
The row over Teran goes back to spring 2013 when Slovenia removed Croatian wine carrying Teran labels from its store shelves. Croatia protested, calling for a joint cross-border protection of Teran, which Slovenia said was not possible because of different agroclimatic conditions in which the grapes are grown and wine produced.
Despite the ruling, the row may not be over yet, as General Court judgements may be appealed at the Court of Justice of the EU. Slovenia has two months to appeal, but it is not clear yet whether it will, with those responsible saying they would first need to examine the judgement before deciding on further steps.
Wine growers from Kras who produce Teran believe the government should appeal and will seek a meeting with PM Janez Janša to explain to him how they are affected by the judgement.
Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec said the judgement would cause damage to Slovenian Teran producers with concerns that Croatian Teran could flood the Slovenian market, but also said the judgement needed to be respected.
Slovenian officials were quick to engage in a blame gave over who is responsible for the outcome, the second such after Slovenia lost its case against Croatia over its failure to implement the border arbitration award.
Foreign Minister Anže Logar criticised the Slovenian diplomatic service for "falling asleep", failing to react promptly on time in the preliminary procedure.
Announcing a debate in parliament on the matter and an examination of all activities pertaining to it, Logar raised the issue of "responsibility of those who opted for the legal action we lost".
"Let's remember another suit that we've lost. Lost suits certainly do not testify to active and confident foreign policy action that would improve the position, influence and reputation of foreign policy, rather the opposite," he said.
However, Dejan Židan, who served as agriculture minister at the time of crucial developments between 2010 and 2018, and who championed the idea to challenge the derogation in court, dismissed the allegation against him saying he was "proud" of action to protect Teran.
Returning the ball to the incumbent government, the Social Democrat said the government of the time had little chance to communicate within the European People's Party that key decision-makers came from, asserting that had Germany or Italy been in Slovenia's place the Commission "would never have adopted such a delegated regulation".
Similar frustration was expressed by Teran growers and experts involved in the case, who argued that Slovenia's arguments were sound, but the problem was politics and a lack of unity in Slovenia.
Regretting the development, parliamentary parties argued that experts should decide whether Slovenia should appeal against the General Court's decision. Many were critical of Židan, as well as a lack of unity among Slovenian political representatives.
Meanwhile, the Commission responded by saying that both Slovenian and Croatian wine producers can continue producing and selling their wines.
"The delegated regulation allows Croatian wine producers that had traditionally produced wine with Teran grape variety to continue labelling the wine with this name. However, it also introduces three conditions restricting the scope of the derogation and avoiding any sort of confusion between this wine and the Slovenian PDO wine Teran, reads a release from the Commission.
STA, 4 September 2020 - Builder Kolektor Koling signed the latest in a series of high-value construction contract in Croatia on Friday, this time for a EUR 35 million reconstruction of transport surfaces and rails at the port of Rijeka.
The work on the project, 85% of which is financed through the EU's Connecting Europe Facility fund, will start in December, Kolektor said.
The Slovenian builder will renovate over 110,000 square metres of surfaces, 1,625 metres of crane tracks and over 12 kilometres of rail tracks along with several other essential infrastructure segments at the port.
Kolektor Koling said this was already the second major project agreed in Rijeka in the recent three months, while the company's director spoke of over EUR 200 million worth of construction work secured in Croatia in the recent period.
Kolektor is presently building the main road section between Škurin and the Rijeka port estimated at EUR 75 million, as well as a wastewater collection, disposal and treatment system on the island of Krk estimated at over EUR 44 million.
Other ongoing projects include the development of multimodal platforms at the Rijeka port in conjunction with the Jadranska Vrata terminal worth EUR 37 million, and water supply reconstruction for the city of Petrinja, estimated at EUR 35 million, Kolektor Koling said.
STA, 5 September 2020 - President Borut Pahor and his Croatian counterpart Zoran Milanović attended on Saturday a memorial ceremony honouring the victims of the Fascist concentration camp Kampor on Rab island.
According to Pahor's office, this was the first time that the two countries' presidents attend the annual event together.
Prior to the ceremony marking the 77th anniversary of the liberation of Kampor, Pahor and Milanović laid a wreath to the monument of the victims of the camp, known as one of the most notorious Fascist camps in the Second World War.
Pahor wrote that the joint gesture "symbolised the importance of friendship and a shared awareness of the need to preserve memory, which should also serve as a warning".
"The decision to come to Rab and bow the the victims of the Italian concentration camp Kampor together with Croatian President and friend Zoran Milanović was urgent and simple", he said.
Predsednika sta položila venec k spomeniku žrtvam italijanskega fašističnega terorja Kampor. To je prvič, da sta se slovenski in hrvaški predsednik skupaj poklonila spominu na žrtve taborišča Kampor. pic.twitter.com/B6PDjLAWDp— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) September 5, 2020
Pahor added that on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War he wanted to personally and on behalf of Slovenia honour the memory of the victims of the camp that saw so many people suffer and die.
He warned that "any form of intolerance and hatred begins with words and small actions, with small evil gestures that grow into serious evil before most people even realise it. This is how it came to Fascism, which showed its face here on Rab".
According to the Slovenian president, European peace is based on reconciliation between two of the biggest opponents, the German and French people. This reconciliation is also the cornerstone of today's EU, "an alliance where we want to achieve a better life, while it is still and always will be above all a project of peace".
Some 15,000 Croats, Slovenians and Jews, including about 1,200 children, experienced the horrors of the camp in the 14 months and a half of its operation. Croatian sources suggest at least a fifth of all internees died there because of abuse, famine and disease.
Pahor and Milanović also used the opportunity for bilateral talks to "continue and reaffirm the good and friendly cooperation between the two countries", the president's office said.
Milanović picked Slovenia for his first trip abroad after his appointment at the beginning of the year. He held a working meeting with Pahor in Otočec at the end of February.
The presidents also held talks in Ptuj in mid-May after Milanović laid a wreath to the victims of post-war killings in Maribor's Dobrava cemetery.
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STA, 4 September 2020 - A record 1,733 tests conducted on Thursday confirmed 47 new Sars-CoV-2 infections in Slovenia, a slight drop on the 53 and 55 cases discovered on Wednesday and Tuesday. No new fatalities occurred, meaning the death toll remains at 134. The number of hospitalised patients decreased by two to 24, with three in intensive care.
The new cases put the total number of confirmed infections thus far at 3,079, 505 of which are active. The total number of quarantine orders currently in force exceeds 9,000.
Meanwhile, providing some cause for concern are reports of infections in staff from three kindergartens and pupils from several schools after the new school year started on Monday in-class for almost 191,000 primary and secondary pupils and almost 18,000 teachers.
Classes where cases were established are being quarantined and are mostly switching to remote learning. Schools with cases have remained open, an exception being a primary school in Braslovče where both the kindergarten and school were closed after four positive cases.
Government spokesman Jelko Kacin said today that the situation was no cause for alarm, as there are many schools and classes in Slovenia, meaning there will be cases. He explained that local epidemiologists have the final word about measures taken in individual cases.
Meanwhile, the new cases remain dispersed around the country. They were confirmed in 29 municipalities on Thursday, with Ljubljana again topping the chart with ten cases.
STA, 3 September 2020 - The government has changed the legal basis for the mandatory wearing of face masks or other face coverings in public indoor spaces and for mandatory hand sanitising to make it possible to actually fine those who flout the rules.
The adoption of a new decree at today's government session was announced by government spokesman Jelko Kacin after Slovenia recorded a five-month spike in new coronavirus cases.
It comes after the human rights ombudsman, responding to a complaint by a member of the public, exposed a loophole that made it impossible to impose any sanctions on those violating the mandatory wearing of masks.
Kacin said the new rule on the mandatory of wearing masks will not apply to schools or sports and recreational activities where they will remain recommended. Unless schools were excluded, masks would also be mandatory in class, not just in common indoor areas.
However, masks will continue to be mandatory on public transport.
The new decree comes into effect from Friday when inspectors will start overseeing its implementation and will be able to issue penalty notices to violators.
Kacin said that masks would not be mandatory when sufficient distance between people can be kept. "If an office in a public space is big enough masks are not compulsory, especially when ventilation is possible."
Restrictions on gatherings in public places remain in place with the government Covid-19 advisory group warning that the restrictions must also apply to all private gatherings.
Slovenia recorded 53 new coronavirus infections for Wednesday after a five-month high of 55 the day before, which was on a record number of tests. Kacin noted that almost 50 more tests were performed on Wednesday than Tuesday.
The lab capacities are overstretched. "We fear there will be delays, that we'll be waiting for the results for the next day and that we won't have the real picture any longer," said Kacin.
Kacin said that many infected individuals would not tell the epidemiologists where they had caught the virus, so it was necessary to follow self-protective measures.
Turning to the deteriorating situation in other countries, he announced Slovenia would be forced to amend its quarantine list of countries.
The Covid-19 advisory group are currently discussing the possibility to let Croatian citizens living along the border visit their graves in Slovenia without mandatory quarantine ahead of All Saints Day, observed on 1 November.
However, Kacin noted that Croatia's coronavirus status was getting worse and would soon near 100 infections per 100,000 residents. This was after a public health official said yesterday that Slovenia's 14 day incidence was nearing 23 per 100,000.
Tatjana Lejko Zupanc, the head of the Infectious Disease Department of the Ljubljana UKC hospital, said that Covid-19 hospitalisations were on the rise and that an increasing number of patients required intensive care.
She reported that experience had shown the use of face masks as effective, including among health professions who avoided catching the virus from a family member because they were wearing a mask.
She urged everyone to follow the precautionary measures and act responsibly for the sake of themselves, their relatives and everyone else, in particular with the approach of autumn and winter when it will be no longer possible to see whether a person has a cold, flu or Covid-19.
Those hospitalised with Covid-19 are 63 years old on average, which is similar to the first wave of the epidemic. Patients with chronic conditions are hospitalised again, but this time around they do not have so grave chronic issues.
STA, 3 September 2020 - The lives of some locals in border areas seem to be getting harder since Slovenia recently red-listed Croatia due to a rising number of Covid-19 cases. This prevents Croats from visiting the graves of their relatives across the border in Slovenia. Croatia would like the strict measures to be somewhat softened.
Croatia's Nova TV reported last evening that two Croatian citizens were not allowed to enter Slovenia to visit their relatives' graves in Jelšane, a Slovenian town just two kilometres from the Croatian town of Rupa.
There are some exceptions allowing Croatian citizens to enter Slovenia for a funeral of a relative or for business or some other urgent matters.
Slovenian and Croatian authorities have been notified of the difficulties by Croatian Mayor of Klana Željka Šarčević Grgić.
Although a meeting has been held in Slovenia's Ilirska Bistrica to discuss softer measures, she said the measures had in fact become stricter.
Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman told Nova TV that all open issues were being addressed, adding Croatia would appreciate if Croatians were allowed to visit their graves in Slovenia.
The locals would like to see a solution before 1 November, All Saints' Day, when Slovenians and Croats visit graves en masse.
STA, 4 September 2020 - The Hungarian authorities have granted an appeal from the Slovenian ethnic minority to open another border crossing for the locals, re-opening the Ketvolgy/Verica-Čepinci crossing as of Saturday between 6am and 6pm. A border crossing with Austria, important for Slovenian daily migrant workers, will also be reopened.
On Tuesday, Hungary closed its border for foreign citizens to contain the coronavirus, leaving only three border crossings with Slovenia operable - Pince (Tornyiszentmiklós on the Hungarian side), Dolga Vas (Hosszufalu) and Hodoš (Bajansenye).
The Slovenian minority on the other side of the border has been virtually cut off from Slovenia, and their representatives, as well as the Slovenian Foreign Ministry, have called on the Hungarian authorities to open one more small border crossing.
The Ketvolgy/Verica-Čepinci border crossing is very important for the minority, as travelling through other border crossings may prolong the journey by 100 kilometres or two hours.
Granting the appeal, Hungary also allowed parents who take their children to a bilingual school in Slovenia's Prosenjakovci to cross the local border crossing two times a day.
The restrictions on border travel have posed a problem for the primary school, which has 100 pupils, of whom 42 come from Hungary.
Erika Köleš Kiss, the minority's representative in Hungarian parliament, said that the representatives had strived for the border crossing to open even earlier, but were nevertheless happy with the outcome.
The Hungarian authorities also granted an appeal to reopen the border crossing with Austria at Alsószölnök, which is used by Slovenian daily migrant workers. It is expected to be opened on Saturday and stay opened between 7am and 7pm.
STA, 1 September 2020 - Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman has called for the remaining open issues between Croatia and Slovenia to be resolved bilaterally as he was interviewed by the STA on the sidelines of the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) conference.
"Open issues need to be closed," Grlić Radman said when asked whether there had been any progress in their resolution since the new government in Slovenia took over in March.
He noted that Croatia had withdrawn from the international arbitration process to demarcate the disputed parts of the Slovenian-Croatian border and that the EU Court of Justice had decided that the relevant lawsuit by Slovenia was inadmissible.
Grlić Radman added that the court had advised Slovenia and Croatia to seek a bilateral solution. "Both sides need to come to terms that this is reality. There is no arbitration if there is no other side," he stressed.
The Croatian foreign minister has thus called for the remaining issues that are pressing the countries to be resolved bilaterally.
It is in politicians' interest not to leave this burden on the shoulders of next generations. "These are thorns in our sides that must be shaken off," Grlić Radman said.
"Slovenians and Croats understand each other well. If people are on good terms, why politicians would not be as well?".
The minister also called for Slovenia and Croatia to together endorse the countries of Western Balkans on their way to EU and NATO integration.
According to him, the countries have many comparative advantages due to their geographical position and share many views. "There only must be good will. If there is good will, we can do a lot together."
Grlić Radman has assessed that the countries cooperate well in the fight against the novel coronavirus at all levels - from prime ministers and ministers to professionals.
With the meetings with his Slovenian counterpart Anže Logar in May and July, a platform has been created on which the countries are able to tackle concrete issues which are important for both countries, he added.
He noted that Croatia had opened up for Slovenian tourists, many of whom own properties and vessels in Croatia, and that the country was satisfied with the visit by Slovenians in the summer months.
In his talks with Logar on the sidelines of the BSF, he proposed that Slovenia put on the Covid-19 red list only individual counties in Croatia with poor epidemiological picture, and not the entire country.
As an example, he mentioned Germany, which has put only two counties in Dalmatia on the red list, and said he expected understanding from Slovenia. "If Slovenian citizens want to come, we are open."
Grlić Radman assessed the countries' cooperation in fighting illegal migration as very good, while noting that Croatia protected its borders and the EU borders in that respect and thus met the conditions to enter the Schengen Area.
He rejected the criticism levelled at the Croatian authorities in relation to treatment of migrants, and said cooperation was needed with the Western Balkan countries in preventing illegal migration.
All these countries should take responsibility for protecting their borders if they want to join the European Union, he concluded.
STA, 24 August 2020 - Two people died of Covid-19 in Slovenia on Sunday and 14 tested positive in a total of 543 coronavirus tests, according to the most recent data released by the government on Monday. Today, thousands of holidaymakers are expected to return from Croatia, because arrivals will be ordered to quarantine for 14 days as of tomorrow.
In total 2,665 of SARS-CoV-2 infections have been confirmed in Slovenia, with 410 infections being active yesterday, of which 17 infected persons were in hospital. The death toll climbed to 133, according to the national tracker covid-19.sledilnik.
The government and health authorities expect the situation to worsen in the coming fortnight, as thousands of Slovenians are returning from Croatia, where the number of Covid-19 cases has skyrocketed.
In the past weeks a significant share of cases confirmed in Slovenia was in people who got infected while on holiday in Croatia.
Last week, Slovenia red-listed the neighbouring country, which means that people coming from Croatia are ordered to quarantine for two weeks. The government, however, gave holidaymakers until the end of today to return without mandatory quarantine.
Health officials have nonetheless recommended that they self-isolate for a while. It seems that many holidaymakers have waited for the very last day to return and tailbacks are expected at border crossings today.
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STA, 24 August 2020 - Jelko Kacin, the government's spokesperson for Covid-19, has described Croatia as a "serious threat to all other EU countries" due to the coronavirus situation there. "Time will tell how serious the situation there is. I have many reasons to worry," he told the latest edition of Reporter magazine.
He said Croatia successfully tackling coronavirus was in Slovenia's strategic interest. "They are our immediate neighbours, many of our nationals holidayed there. I think that all the well-meaning warnings expressed by our side and by me were worthy of (timely) attention," he said.
According to Kacin, Slovenia will not allow the situation to deteriorate the way it did in spring. "We simply cannot allow what's spreading from Western Balkans. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia were placed on the red list a long time ago for objective reasons, now our southern neighbour, with the numbers of infections that it has 'produced' itself, has placed itself in this group of countries."
"This is not to say that our neighbour is a Western Balkans country, I'm talking about the state of the epidemic there," he said.
Kacin holidayed on the Croatian coast, and after Croatia was placed on the red list some have accused him of double standards. He rejects this notion.
"Croatian RTL television asked me how come I decided to come to them. I explained that in coming to Krk I did not come to them, I came to my place. The building in which I spend my holidays is property of my family. We've been holidaying on this island for a long time, I had not come to visit their institutions."
STA, 23 August 2020 - Out of 760 coronavirus tests conducted in Slovenia on Saturday, 34 came back positive, the highest weekend number since late March. There were no Covid-19 related fatalities. A total of 17 persons were in hospital with Covid-19, none requiring intensive care, show fresh official data.
One person was discharged form hospital yesterday. The national death toll remains at 131.
Most of the latest cases were detected in Ljubljana and eastern Slovenia and in persons aged 15-24 or 25-34.
So far, Slovenia has recorded 2,651 coronavirus cases. Currently, there are 402 active cases in the country, according to the national tracker covid-19.sledilnik.
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STA, 22 August 2020 - As many as 300 persons infected with Sars-CoV-2 came to Slovenia from abroad, of whom 55% from Croatia, shows data obtained by National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) epidemiologists and labs for the period between 1 June and 21 August.
The majority of a total of 165 persons who brought the virus from Croatia, or 120, were persons aged 15 to 34. The majority, or 108, were men.
Another 26 persons got infected from them in Slovenia, NIJZ said on Saturday.
Since the number if infected persons returning from Croatia was rapidly rising, NIJZ notified all EU members through the early warning and response system (EWRS).
The number was at 16 two weeks ago, rose to 64 last week and is currently at 57 this week. However, NIJZ expects this week's figure to exceed last week's.
This was one of the main reasons why the coronavirus task force and NIJZ proposed to the government to impose a two-week quarantine for Slovenians returning from Croatia.
Since yesterday, Croatia has thus been on Slovenia's red list of coronavirus countries with a two-week quarantine.
There are some exceptions, however, including for those currently still on holiday in Croatia; they can return home without being quarantined until Monday midnight
STA, 22 August 2020 - Contrary to expectations, Slovenians holidaying in neighbouring Croatia are not yet returning home in great numbers after the country was put on Slovenia's red list in terms of Covid-19. Waiting times on the border to enter Slovenia are thus comparable to previous years.
More massive returns are expected on Sunday and Monday, as Slovenians can return from Croatia without having to go into a 14-day quarantine until Monday midnight.
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Police data from border crossings with Croatia shows that it is mainly Germans and Czechs crossing into Slovenia, including at two of the main border crossings - Dragonja in the south-west and Gruškovje in the east.
Data from the Traffic Information Centre meanwhile shows that the longest waiting time to enter Slovenia is an hour and a half at Gruškovje.
Many are still also heading for Croatia, and have to wait around an hour at Dragonja, the longest waiting time.
Mirko Skuhala of border police at Gruškovje told the press today that 11,000 vehicles entered Slovenia last night, which is on a par with the same period last year.
STA, 20 August 2020 - In a landmark ruling for the rights of migrants entering Slovenia, the Supreme Court has reportedly overturned an Administrative Court ruling that allowed for no return of migrants to Croatia without a formal decision. The Supreme Court argues this is allowed under an agreement on fast-track returns signed by Slovenia and Croatia in 2006.
Deciding in a case of a Moroccan migrant, the Administrative Court had ruled fast-track returns based on an inter-state agreement but without an issued decision and thus a chance for appeal violated European and Slovenian legislation and constitutionally secured rights, Dnevnik reported on Thursday.
The Supreme Court, ruling in favour of an appeal filed by the Interior Ministry, disagreed, the paper said, adding that what is the first ruling pertaining to the 2006 Slovenia-Croatia agreement has been welcomed by the ministry and police.
They told Dnevnik the Supreme Court had ruled the agreement did not breach EU law, nor had it established human rights violations.
The paper adds that legal rules envisage that such a decision be issued by Croatia, but Croatia fails to do so, instead pushing back the migrants to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Taskforce for Asylum, an activist group, responded by saying that Slovenian police obviously did not need to check how Croatian police acted once the migrants were returned and by announcing a challenge at the Constitutional Court
The Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman told Dnevnik that the Supreme Court ruling did not yet establish a "case law", pointing out that the Administrative Court has also ruled that a migrant from Cameroon - who had been subjected to a similar expulsion and ended up in Bosnia - be returned to Slovenia, be allowed to seek asylum and receive damages.
Blaž Kovač of Amnesty International Slovenije meanwhile expressed his conviction that Slovenia's involvement in chain refoulement made it co-responsible for the Croatian police's treatment of refugees and for the inhumane accommodation conditions they are subjected to in Bosnia.