STA, 30 March 2019 - Damir Črnčec, the state secretary in the prime minister's office for national security, has told the Siol web portal that all types of radicalisms or extremisms are present in Slovenia, but noted that Slovenia is a safe country.
Črnčec, whose appointment as Marjan Šarec's aide has raised some controversy, said that "all three types of radicalisms and extremisms are present in Slovenia - the right and left, as well as Islamic fundamentalism."
While noting that Slovenia was a safe country, he said that the biggest potential threats were those of the information and cyber type and the issue of illegal migrations, terrorism and a rise of extremism and violent extremism.
Črnčec finds that terrorism is very well defined in the Slovenian legislation, "while there are legal voids when it comes to extremism and violent extremism."
He said that Slovenia lagged behind other countries in terms of information and cyber security, but added that the government had earmarked additional funds for this field in 2019.
"We count on an administration for information security to be established within the Public Administration Ministry, which would deal with the preventive aspect of the forming of a serious information security backbone in Slovenia."
According to Črnčec, the EU is under the "threat represented by so-called fake news and disinformation". "We are talking primarily about the influence of external players, countries, on the political process in the EU."
"The same is true for the influence of these players on individual countries," he said. Asked whether Russia represented the biggest threat in this respect, he said he could hardly say something like that when it came to Slovenia.
Črnčec insists that illegal migrations were primarily a security issue and that it was a criminal act, with the structure of illegal migrants representing the biggest risk.
He assured the public that the migration issue is being managed. "Maintaining a balance between security and solidarity is and will remain the key imperative of our actions in the future."
Commenting on the attempts of the local authorities in Ilirska Bistrica (SW) to prevent a migrant centre from being established there, Črnčec said that the government's position was that a local referendum on the issue was inappropriate.
There is no legal basis for it either, he said, adding that "the government will simply not allow that."
Regarding hate speech, of which he personally had been accused of in the past, Črnčec said that hate speech was present in Slovenia and that a challenge for the future remained to find a balance between its regulation and freedom of speech.
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STA, 25 March 2019 - The Koper and Novo Mesto police caught 51 foreigners illegally crossing the border the past weekend. Seven migrants requested international protection.
According to the Koper police department, 23 foreigners were caught crossing the border from Croatia in the western region from Friday morning until today.
Two of them were Croatians, while the rest were citizens of Kosovo (five), Pakistan (four), Algeria (three), Somalia (three), and Afghanistan, and Iraq and Iran (two each).
The Koper police also apprehended a Slovenian citizen who transported four foreigners who had illegally crossed the border.
Seven people were already returned to Croatia and just as many are expected to be handed over today. Seven migrants requested international protection.
The Novo Mesto police, meanwhile, found an Algerian citizen hiding in the undercarriage of a train, trying to avoid border control. The man was handed over to Croatian authorities.
In the Novo Mesto area, a total of 27 foreigners were apprehended, with six of them coming from Afghanistan, just as many from Algeria and Morocco, four from Yemen, two from Iraq and just as many from Egypt, and one from Syria.
A total of 611 illegal crossings of the border were recorded in Slovenia in January and February, which is a 35% increase compared to the same period last year. Most of the foreigners came from Algeria and Morocco.
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STA, 18 March 2019 - Police apprehended 102 foreigners who entered Slovenia from Croatia unlawfully at the weekend. Five of them have already asked for international protection, with the rest of them are still being processed. At the same time, two vehicles transporting illegal migrants were intercepted.
Metlika police apprehended 10 Afghani citizens and one Iranian crossing into Slovenia illegally in the night to Saturday in the south-east of the country.
The group was brought to the border by a 22-year-old Croatian driver from Velika Kladuša, one of the Bosnian towns closest to Slovenia.
The driver was handled by Croatian police.
Another group in the south-east was apprehended around the town of Semič on Saturday morning when a car with Italian licence places, driven by two Pakistani citizens, was stopped carrying three Indians, three Pakistani citizens and one citizen of Myanmar.
The drivers had tried to take the group to Italy, where the two reside legally. Slovenian police seized their car and filed a criminal complaint against them.
A total of 57 citizens, the majority from Pakistan (27) and Iran (12), were also caught by Novo Mesto police between Friday and Monday.
The Ljubljana Police Department apprehended twelve illegal migrants over the past 24 hours; three Algerians and a Tunisian citizen asked for asylum, while processing is still ongoing for the others.
The Koper Police Department, which covers south-western Slovenia, apprehended 15 illegal migrants from Friday to Monday morning.
One Afghani citizen asked for international protection, and the rest are being still processed.
Illegal migrations slowed down during the winter months, with 325 crossings registered in January and 334 in December compared to 1,000-plus in the summer months, according to police data.
In March last year, a total of 206 illegal crossings of the border were recorded, a figure that is likely to be exceeded this year.
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STA, 6 March 2019 - Transparency International Slovenija (TI) has reported the director of the Agency for Commodity Reserves Anton Zakrajšek to the state prosecution over suspected abuse of office in the procurement of what is currently a 179-km fence on the border with Croatia.
Following allegations that the procurement of the fencing favoured a specific contractor, TI obtained part of the documentation after almost three years of efforts, receiving a nod from the Information Commissioner and engaging in a tug-of-war with the agency in courts.
Screenshot from YouTube
TI believes Zakrajšek abused his powers when signing a razor wire contract with Minis in 2015 which included the provision of an advance payment of EUR 860,832 or 70% of the contract's total value.
Minis has been the main supplier of "technical obstacles" that Slovenia started erecting on the Croatian border during the migration crisis. It has received more than EUR 9.3m from the agency, while the remaining suppliers have been paid a total of EUR 6m, the newspaper Dnevnik reported today.
TI says the agency would have required special consent from the finance minister for the advance payment, which it does not appear to have received, while Zakrajšek is arguing the payment had never been executed.
The official, who is adamant that Minis was always picked as the cheapest bidder, argues the advance payment had been conditional on the supplier securing a bank guarantee in the full amount of the payment, which it failed to do.
What is more, the Finance Ministry said this provision only applied to direct budget users, while the agency is not defined as a budget user at all.
TI responded by saying "the alleged advance payment is only one of the suspicions elements, while confirming or rejecting the suspicion is in the domain of the relevant authorities". The NGO told the STA it saw no reason to withdraw its report.
TI only asked for a portion of the documents, as much of the fence procurement documentation remained classified as internal. The STA has not yet received an answer from the government about whether it planned to declassify them.
The agency said in a press release in the afternoon that the documents were classified because their contents could put in jeopardy the government's objectives to regulate migration flow.
Moreover, Zakrajšek said in the press release that the agency had asked Minis for a bid because the company had already been cooperating with the Interior Ministry at that point and the department had no complaints. The Interior Ministry also provided the specifications for the fence, the press release said.
The fencing contracts, signed under special provisions governing procurement in cases labelled classified, have been raising eyebrows for some time.
Alenka Bratušek, the head of the SAB party who was an MP at the time, caused waves after a 2017 session of the parliamentary Commission for Public Finance Oversight, when she claimed the documents studied had been manipulated with and that the chosen bidder had not been the cheapest.
SAB secretary general Jernej Pavlič said today that Bratušek had forwarded her findings at the time to the prosecution.
Zakrajšek insists the chosen bidder had been the cheapest and fastest and claims Bratušek is misleading with her accusation, which he says is based on a mistake that occurred in one of the minutes.
Media have also been wondering about the choice of Minis, with POP TV reporting on Tuesday that the company and a local office of the Modern Centre Party (SMC), the senior coalition party between 2014 and 2018, shared the same address for a while.
SMC leader Miro Cerar responded to the reports by saying the intensive migration pressure in 2015 required the decision to protect people and property.
"This was the task I put to the ministers," he said, expressing his belief the decisions followed professional criteria and legal obligations. "I believe Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek acted in due fashion."
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STA, 7 February 2019 - There are currently 646 people with refugee status in Slovenia. They are housed in integration houses or private accommodations, 99 of them are living abroad. A total of 109 are enrolled in schools, while around 100 refugees have already found a job.
According to the Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants (Urad Vlade Republike Slovenije za oskrbo in integracijo migrantov), the majority of refugees are citizens of Syria, Eritrea, and Iran, followed by the citizens of the former Yugoslav republics. They are entitled to financial compensation for private accommodation, integration assistance, employment, health and social care, and education.
Integration assistance is available for three years after gaining an international protection status and is provided by integration consultants at the office and non-governmental organizations.
The refugees attend integration assistance courses, such as the one conducted by Odnos association that supports them in finding employment, opening a bank account or submitting applications.
The refugees are also included in 300-hour Slovenian language courses, which can be extended. The office covers the costs of a one-time language proficiency test as well.
When it comes to employment, refugees are equal to Slovenian citizens, therefore having free access to the labour market. The Employment Service also conducts a course on integration into the labour market. According to the Office, there is no accurate data on the number of refugee employees, but they estimate that approximately 100 of them have jobs.
Among the refugees there are 184 children or minors, 12 are unaccompanied minors who are housed in boarding schools. Of the 109 enrolled in educational institutions, most are in primary school and 17 attend university.
STA, 31 January 2019 - The National Assembly passed legislative amendments on Thursday which transpose the EU directive setting down the conditions of entry and residence of third-country citizens for the purposes of research, studies and training.
The directive, which entered into force in May 2016, should have been translated into national law by member countries by 23 May 2018. Missing the deadline, Slovenia has already received a reprimand from Brussels.
The directive also deals with the entry of third-country nationals for the purposes of voluntary service, pupil exchange schemes or educational projects and au pairing.
Education Ministry State Secretary Jernej Štromajer said that the amendments to the research and development activity act entailed only minor changes.
The amendments were passed by unanimous vote, but many MPs said they expected much more from a bill reforming the act more thoroughly which is already in the pipeline.
However, the Left abstained from the vote, airing misgivings about the elimination of certain proofs in acquiring residence permits for third-country citizens hosted by research agencies.
The EU standards can be found in many languages and formats here
STA, 23 January 2019- Slovenian police officers detected a total of 9,149 illegal crossings of the state border last year, which is almost a five-fold increase compared to the year before (1,934). The biggest increase was recorded with the citizens of Pakistan, the police and the Interior Ministry have announced on their websites.
In addition to Pakistanis, the biggest number of persons who were caught crossing the national border illegally were from Afghanistan and Algeria.
As it had been expected, the number of illegal crossings of the border increased significantly in April and May, mostly because of the more favourable weather and a new route opening up across Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The police have noted for the STA that the number of illegal crossings of the border did not mean that the same number of different persons had committed the act.
It is possible that one person gets caught crossing the border illegally more than one time, the police said, adding that the Interior Ministry had no information about how many persons had actually crossed the border illegally in 2018.
The number of persons returned to Slovenia by foreign authorities has been increasing lately, in particular on the border with Italy. A majority of them are foreigners who leave asylum seeker centres and try to reach their destination countries.
A majority of foreigners who cross the border illegally within the Schengen system still come from Italy, but their number has been decreasing. The number of entries from Austria has meanwhile been increasing.
The Interior Ministry has granted international protection to 102 asylum seekers last year. At the moment, there are a total of 274 asylum seekers in Slovenia, while there are 640 persons who have been granted international protection.
Number of illegal crossings of the border in 2018 by citizenship
citizenship number of crossings
Number of persons returned to the Slovenian authorities
and to foreign authorities in 2018
country returned to returned to
Slovenian authorities foreign authorities
Italy 351 68
Austria 37 22
Croatia 14 4,653
Hungary 19 5
airports 178 36
total 599 4,784
STA, 16 January 2019 - Migration flows are becoming increasingly important for the Slovenian economy, the central bank says in its monthly bulletin. Banka Slovenije notes a workforce shortage for occupations requiring intermediate qualifications, meaning that employers have started to hire foreign citizens.
"With Slovenians moving away, the hiring of foreigners has preserved a positive net migration since 2015."
"However, on average the structure of the foreign worker population in terms of education and vocation is poorer than that of domestic workers."
Unless Slovenia starts producing higher value added and introduces direct measures to prevent brain drain, the country's productivity growth could become too low to keep up with the most developed countries, and the effects of an ageing population all the more pronounced, Banka Slovenije said.
Brain drain is lost potential for the state that has invested into the education of highly-trained work force now leaving the country, it added.
The central bank believes brain drain happens for a number of reasons, among them a relatively low value added of a large part of the economy.
Also touching on exports, the bulletin says that the international environment is becoming less advantageous for Slovenia's exporters, as growth in the EU as well as globally has been slowing down.
Although the estimate of economic growth for Slovenia's trade partners is somewhat lower than in 2018, the outlook still indicates "solid conditions" for the exporting companies.
STA, 8 January 2019 - The Koper Science and Research Centre (Znanstveno-Raziskovalno Središče Koper) has won a EUR 2.8m project as part of the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme to study and help overcome the obstacles to the integration of migrant children into European societies.
The three-year project will run until the end of 2021, the Koper centre said in a press release on Tuesday.
This is the first Horizon 2020 research project in the field of social sciences that will be led by a Slovenian centre, said the Koper centre, which was picked among 30 bidders from all over Europe.
The project entitled Migrant Children and Migrant Communities in the Changing Europe will study the inclusion of migrant children in the societies of European countries from the perspective of the child.
Based on field studies carried out in ten countries, recommendations for legislative changes and political measures will be made. Computer applications featuring tools aimed at improving the integration of children into the society will be developed for use in almost all EU countries.
Field research will be conducted in primary schools and high schools, migrant centres and asylum centres in Slovenia, Austria, Spain, the UK, Denmark, Poland, Italy, France, Greece and Turkey.
Researchers will develop various computer apps for teachers, migrant children and local children to promote multiculturalism and dialogue.
The Koper centre will cooperate on the project with three other Slovenian institutions - the Peace Institute, the Faculty of Computer and Information Sciences, and the Faculty of Design.
STA, 18 December 2018 - Slightly over 2,800 people requested international protection in Slovenia so far this year. Although Slovenia is not the target country for most migrants, the number of asylum requests increased by 10% compared to 2017, the government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants (Urad Vlade Republike Slovenije za oskrbo in integracijo migrantov) said on Tuesday, International Migrants Day.
Data show that 255 asylum seekers reside in the country at the moment, as well as nearly 550 of those who already have international protection.
Since it gained independence in 1991, Slovenia approved international protection to just under 810 foreigners.
The biggest challenge for the office and a top priority for 2019 is finding solutions to provide housing for unaccompanied minors. The office will also work on an integration strategy next year.
Talking to the press today, office director Mojca Špec Potočar said that the most frequent question the office gets is whether Slovenia was really setting up registration centres for migrants.
She said that such centres would only be set up if the police deem it necessary. Moreover, the temporary facilities would be set up in order to allow the police to conduct the necessary procedures and would not serve as a housing solution. In fact, the migrants would stay there for a maximum of 72 hours.
At the Ljubljana Asylum Centre, the office hosted a ceremony to mark International Migrants Day. The event featured asylum seekers, who talked about their lives and their hopes for the future.
The Educational Research Institute also held a press conference today, expressing criticism that education of migrant children is too focused only on language skills and that there are poor systemic links between formal and informal education.
Researcher Alenka Gril presented the findings of Sirius, a Europe-wide study. She also praised a project dubbed Challenges of Intercultural Cohabitation developing an integration model across 95 schools and kindergartens.
Meanwhile, Slovenian Philanthropy, a charity, called for a new migration strategy, noting that Slovenia drafted the 2010-2020 Strategy on Economic Migrations nearly a decade ago and the 2002 Resolution on Migration Policies nearly twenty years ago.
The NGO also welcomed Slovenia's decision to join the UN Global Compact for Migration.