STA, 8 July 2019 - Slovenian President Borut Pahor and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed a rise in illegal migrations on the Balkan route as they held a bilateral meeting in Sarajevo on Monday on the sidelines of a SE Europe cooperation event.
Predsednik Pahor se bo nocoj udeležil delovne večerje ob zaključku predsedovanja BiH Procesu sodelovanja v Jugovzhodni Evropi (SEECP), ki poteka v Sarajevu. Ob robu obiska se je PRS Pahor sestal s predsednikom Republike Turčije Recepom Tayyipom Erdoğanom. pic.twitter.com/jKUOyEX4dR— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) July 8, 2019
Pahor told Erdogan about the recent rise in the number of migrants entering Slovenia illegally from Croatia, Pahor's office said in a release.
Erdogan in turn outlined Turkey's plans about the four million refugees in Turkey, complaining the EU was not fully meeting its financial commitments related to them.
The two presidents are worried that the situation in the Middle East could worsen, and hope that a diplomatic solution will be found to the Iran nuclear deal issue.
Bilateral relations were another topic on the agenda, with Pahor and Erdogan sharing a view there were many opportunities to further develop and deepen political dialogue and economic cooperation.
Pahor met Erdogan before a working dinner of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) summit, which brings Bosnia-Herzegovina's SEECP presidency to an end.
The Slovenian president had decided to attend the summit due to enhanced dialogue with all Western Balkan leaders and as a sign of support for Bosnia.
The summit will draw to a close on Tuesday with a plenary session and the adoption of a closing declaration.
However, Bosnia will not formally hand its presidency over as planned since Kosovo has sent any representative to the summit in protest of Bosnia's treatment of its representatives.h
STA, 8 July 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said on Monday that security on Slovenia's southern border would be beefed up, including with new equipment such as drones, after meeting with Ilirska Bistrica officials and civil society representatives to discuss the situation on the border with Croatia.
Šarec, visiting the south-western town along with Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar and Police Commissioner Tatjana Bobnar, said that he understood locals' feelings of unease about the situation.
Ilirska Bistrica Mayor Emil Rojc pointed out that the number of illegal border crossings had doubled since Poklukar's first visit to the area.
"We've never said there was no migration issue," said the prime minister, adding that the need for strengthening border controls had been acknowledged.
Šarec announced the expected arrival of additional soldiers to the area as well as the deployment of new police equipment, including border patrol drones, and expansion of the border fence.
However, Šarec also said that Slovenia's border patrol had been effective in meeting set expectations and that "we cannot settle for various forms of fear-mongering, which are sometimes politically-motivated as well".
Šarec will also visit the Kostel and Črnomlje municipalities later today.
STA, 5 July 2019 - The police continues to detect a rising trend in the number of illegal crossings of the Slovenian border, with the number standing at 5,345 in the first half of the year or 47.1% more than in the same period in 2018. There is an increasing number of illegal migrants from Pakistan, Algeria and Morocco.
The biggest number of illegal crossings of the borders in the first half of the year was processed by police officers from the Koper, Novo Mesto and Ljubljana police departments.
By the end of June, 2,718 of illegal migrants expressed the intention to ask for international protection, which is 7.5% less than in the first half of 2018 (2,355).
According to the latest report, migrants who express the intention to ask for international protection frequently continue on their way to their actual target countries after being accommodated in asylum centres.
In the first half of the year, police officers recorded 355 cases in which foreigners crossed an internal Schengen border to Slovenia without valid documents or permits, which is 13.2% less than in the same period in 2018.
Pakistanis accounted for the most of such illegal entries, while they also dominate the statistics of illegal crossings of the external Schengen border.
A majority of such cases were recorded on the Slovenian border with Italy (226). The police notes that this is a relatively small number of cases, with the number of illegal entries on the border with Italy having dropped.
A total of 2,178 third country nationals were denied entry at border crossings for failing to meet the conditions to enter Slovenia or other EU countries, which is 10.8% more than in the first half of 2018.
Most of them were rejected on the border crossings with Croatia, and the biggest number of them were citizens of Afghanistan, followed by citizens of the Balkan countries.
The number of foreigners who were processed because they were not permitted to reside in Slovenia or other EU countries increased by almost a third to 2,728.
A majority of the cases related to expired residency permits, mostly involving citizens of the Western Balkan countries. An increasing number of Moldovan citizens are also being processed for this reason, as a consequence of visa liberalisation.
Slovenian police officers returned a total of 3,534 foreigners to the authorities of neighbouring countries in the first half of the year (up from 1,174), most of them to the Croatian authorities.
Foreign authorities meanwhile returned 333 persons to Slovenia in this period, including 23 Slovenian citizens, the report says.
STA, 17 June 2019 - The aid provided to migrants by the Legal and Information Centre (PIC), a group of NGOs, does not constitute a crime, Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar told the National Assembly during questions time on Monday. He was answering a question from the opposition Democrats (SDS), who are appalled that these NGOs get state funding.
This comes less than a month after PIC president Katarina Bervar Sternad was reported to the police by Zmago Jelinčič, the president of the opposition National Party (SNS).
Poklukar confirmed today that the police saw an increase in the number of times PIC informed the police of illegal migrants entering the country.
Apart from informing the police of the migrants' location, PIC also sent to the police their names and informed them of the migrants' medical state, Poklukar said.
The minister said that migrants had told the police a PIC representative had given them directions, handed out leaflets with directions and advised them on how to conduct themselves in police proceedings and other procedures.
Both the relevant District Prosecution and the Supreme State Prosecution shared the view that PIC's actions did not amount to a crime, according to Poklukar.
The Supreme Prosecution also said that PIC's activities would have been criminal if they were done for financial gain, the minister added.
The answer was provided to SDS deputy Branko Grims, who said in his question that PIC was actively helping migrants in abusing the asylum procedure.
STA, 10 May 2019 - The investigating magistrate in the case of the abduction of a man by illegal immigrants has ordered that all three suspects arrested on Wednesday remain in detention. Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar meanwhile said the police were in control of the situation on the border with Croatia and that "there is presently no need for protest rallies".
A 25-year-old Morocco citizen and two 18-year-olds from Algeria are accused of abduction, theft and car robbery, prosecutor Srečko Hočevar told the media.
The three were arrested on Wednesday by Italian police and handed to Slovenia on suspicion they had abducted a 79-year-old man working in his vineyard near the Croatia border and had used his car to get to Italy. The man was released before the border.
Responding to the developments today, minister Poklukar said he regrets "that this criminal act occurred", but is "happy that it ended well".
"The Slovenian police are effective and successfully completed the arrest of the perpetrators together with the Italian police," the minister said on the sidelines of a fair in Portorož.
While Poklukar is convinced Slovenia is a safe country with a functioning national security system, he said the country was facing an increase in the number of crossings on the Croatian border.
"In the recent days we stepped up police activities and increased the number of army units in municipalities with a higher number of illegal crossings."
Commenting on the protest rally announced for Saturday in the Bela Krajina border region, the minister said that the police were in control and that no protests or discontent were necessary.
STA, 10 May 2019 - Two analysts quizzed by the STA feel that Wednesday's abduction of an elderly man by illegal migrants will have a profound effect on the ongoing EU election campaign. Andraž Zorko of pollster Valikon and Igor Kršinar, a journalist for the weekly Reporter, also agree PM Marjan Šarec made a mistake by not responding to the incident more aggressively.
Zorko said "nothing will be the same" after Wednesday, arguing the incident confirmed the darkest fears spread by the far-right - "that it is not refugees who are entering Slovenia but economic migrants who can be violent".
He added the development would boost the campaign of the parties with the hardest anti-migration stances, primarily the recently formed Homeland League (DOM) followed by the opposition Democrats (SDS).
While Zorko believes the opposition National Party (SNS) and its head Zmago Jelinčič, "a left nationalist", can only hope to win over a few centre-left voters frustrated with their primary parties' migration policies, Kršinar believes Jelinčič will be the biggest beneficiary of the incident.
Kršinar said Jelinčič had already stood out during Thursday's campaign debate on TV Slovenija: "He might even make it to the European Parliament, which will definitely be a special kind of affair."
Kršinar does not believe DOM will benefit, arguing the party has not attracted enough media attention and that unlike Jelinčič, DOM's leader Bernard Brščič is not a capable public speaker.
"Jelinčič says in a few words what many people want to hear but do not have the nerve to say. So called serious parties actually have a problem in that they cannot perform in the manner Jelinčič is doing it," he said.
Kršinar meanwhile feels that it remains unclear for now how much the SDS can gain. "Of course it will try to use the incident in its favour and it will be among the more important participants of Saturday's rally in Bela Krajina" border region, where the immigrants abducted the man and his car to get to Italy.
As for Šarec's decision to reject the SDS's call for a session of the National Security Council, Kršinar said the prime minister "made a major mistake and missed the opportunity to publicly demonstrate his determination to secure order and peace".
Zorko also said this was "a very bad message to the people living on the border", while both also highlighted the failure of Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar to appear at Thursday's press conference of the police.
The pair agrees a determined reaction would have been necessary from the state, since the situation is feeding the growth of populist movements.
"A determined PM would have immediately sent the army to the border and extended the border fence," Kršinar said, suggesting Šarec's LMŠ party may even fail to get a single MEP elected in the upcoming election because of the situation.
STA, 9 May 2019 - A 79-year-old man working in his vineyard around the south-eastern town of Črnomelj on the border with Croatia was kidnapped on Wednesday by a group of migrants who entered Slovenia illegally, the police told the press in Ljubljana on Thursday.
A 25-year-old Morocco citizen and two 18-year-olds from Algeria were arrested by the Italian police in the town of Basovizza last evening and returned to Slovenia.
They are in detention on suspicion of kidnapping and theft, and will be brought before an investigating magistrate within 48 hours, said Tomaž Perošlja from the General Police Department.
Under Slovenia's penal code, kidnapping carries a prison sentence from six months to five years, or less if the kidnapper releases the victim of their own accord.
Peršolja explained the man had been tied up near the village of Mali Nerajec in the Bela Krajina region in early afternoon, put into his car's boot and driven several hours around Slovenia before being untied and released in a village near the town of Sežana on the south-western border with Italy.
The kidnappers took his documents before proceeding to Italy. Upon release, the man asked for help the nearby locals, who called the police and his family after 6pm.
The police have also established that the three foreign citizens were processed by Slovenian police before, according to Peršolja.
They entered the country illegally on 29 April, did not express an intention to ask for international protection in Slovenia and were returned to Croatia on 30 April.
The kidnapped man's daughter told the news portal siol.net yesterday her father, who was not injured, had been kidnapped by four migrants.
Pršolja explained police were still trying to establish all the details, saying it was possible the fourth kidnapper had left the car earlier.
The police, which have already beefed up control at the most sensitive border areas, are still searching for him.
The incident could further heat the debate on safety along the border due to a rise in illegal migrations, especially during the ongoing campaign for the EU elections.
Two civil groups from Bela Krajina and the municipality of Ilirska Bistrica, which have been warning about poor safety of local population, will hold a news conference at 2pm, also featuring the kidnapped man's daughter.
Meanwhile, the opposition Democrats (SDS) have already demanded a session of the National Security Council to discuss the situation on the southern border.
As party leader Janez Janša said on Twitter this morning, the government was not in control of the situation and did not it take it seriously.
STA, 6 May 2019 - The Novo Mesto, Koper and Ljubljana police have recorded more than 140 illegal crossings of the border the past weekend. Two foreigners were hiding in the chassis of a train engine and a Pakistani citizen wanted to smuggle ten persons into Slovenia in his car.
In the Novo Mesto area, 27 foreigners were apprehended illegally crossing the border with Croatia in the south-east. Police proceedings against the 16 Algerians, five Syrians, and the citizens of Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya are still under way.
Another two foreigners were discovered at the Dobova border crossing during a border check of a train transporting grain from Serbia.
A Moroccan and a Libyan were hiding in the chassis of the engine. The pair have already been handed over to Croatian authorities.
The Ljubljana police have registered 48 migrants in the last 72 hours. The citizens of Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Eritrea, Sudan, Morocco, Afghanistan, Algeria and Iran were apprehended in the area of Kočevje, Ribnica and Ljubljana.
The Koper police department processed 64 people for illegally crossing the border from Friday until this morning, of whom 30 were from Pakistan, 11 from Algeria, 10 from Turkey, four from Albania and two each from Afghanistan, Iraq, Tunisia and Slovenia, and one from Kosovo.
So far, 15 persons have applied for international protection, eight have been returned to Croatian authorities, and 37 are yet to be returned to Croatia.
Three persons have been released after it was determined that they reside in the EU and one was transported to the Centre for Foreigners.
Two Italians and two Pakistanis, residents of Italy and Slovenia, respectively, are being processed for illegally crossing the border.
On Friday evening, a 40-year-old Pakistani citizen residing in Slovenia was caught transporting 10 persons in a car with Slovenian licence plates. All passengers have applied for asylum, while the driver was remanded in custody.
This morning a van was pulled over in the village of Podgorje near Koper in which an Italian driver and a Pakistani guide were smuggling 16 Pakistanis
STA, 23 April 2019 - A total of 111 foreigners were apprehended illegally crossing the Slovenian-Croatian border the past weekend, according to reports from the Novo Mesto, Celje and Koper police departments. Slovenian police have already handed over 30 of them to Croatia, while 12 have asked for asylum in Slovenia.
Since Friday, the Novo Mesto police has apprehended 67 foreigners, of whom 25 were Moroccans, 20 Algerians, 11 came from Bangladesh, four were Turks, three Libyans and one each came from Palestine, Cuba, Nigeria and Iran.
They are all yet to be processed by police.
In Novo Mesto, a man was caught illegally transporting four Egyptians in his car with Slovenian register plates yesterday. The 37-year-old driver, who is a resident of the UK, was detained.
The Egyptian citizens have already been handed over to Croatia.
The Koper police registered 37 illegal migrants between Friday and this morning. So far, 23 of them have been returned to Croatia and one is to be returned today. A dozen people have requested international protection.
The foreigners came from Turkey (19), Syria (6), Iraq (4), Kosovo (2), Bangladesh (2), and one each from Iran, India, Albania and Libya.
In Bistrica ob Sotli, three citizens of Kosovo were apprehended on Saturday and returned to Croatia.
The number of illegal crossings of the border in the first three months of this year rose by almost 150% compared to the same period last year, to 1,639.
Most foreigners came from Algeria, Morocco and Pakistan.
The most illegal crossings of the border were recorded by the Novo Mesto police department. The Ljubljana police department follows closely with its share rising. Koper comes in third.
Between January and March, a total of 699 foreigners have indicated they would ask for international protection. Most of them were Algerians.
In the same period last year, 559 migrants applied for asylum.
According to police, this year the number of illegal crossings of the border is rising faster than last year.
All our stories on immigration in Slovenia can be found here
STA, 3 April 2019 - The Administrative Court has declared unlawful the decision of the Ilirska Bistrica city council to hold a referendum on a centre for the acceptance and registration of migrants in the south-western town. The locals say they will nevertheless continue with activities against the government's plans to set up such a centre there.
The ruling of the court was announced for the STA on Wednesday by Ilirska Bistrica Mayor Emil Rojc, who added that the objective of the municipality and most of the residents remained that the centre was not established there.
The city council voted to hold a consultative referendum on the centre, planned to be set up at the Jelšane border crossing with Croatia, at the beginning of March in what was a second vote on the issue.
After the vote to hold a referendum on 14 April, Rojc said he would ask the court to rule on its legality after legal opinions suggested that under the Slovenian law, a municipality cannot hold a referendum on migration policy.
The mayor explained at the time that the municipality had obtained three opinions, from two law firms and the government's local government service, which all say a municipality cannot hold such a referendum.
Rojc told the STA today that the municipality had received the ruling of the Administrative Court last week, in which it said that the decision to hold the referendum was unlawful, which meant that it could not be held.
The mayor said that the locals had other options available but would not go into details, adding that the goal that the centre is not set up in the municipality had been reached for the time being.
"The fact is that the state wanted to start the construction and that it has not done it so far," he added.
The planned centre near the village of Ješane, which has some 250 residents, is to feature ten containers and two tents with the total capacity of between 600 and 1,000 beds.
Rojc, a member of the coalition Social Democrats (SD) said that the activities against the centre by a local civil initiative continued, adding that while the municipality had nothing to do with them, he personally supported them.
Signatures are being signed for a petition against the centre, and a protest is planned to be held on 27 April, he added.
STA, 2 March 2019 - Around EUR 7.8m in budget funds was spent on migration-related issues last year. The Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants accounted for the bulk of spending, EUR 3.48m, and it estimates outlays will rise to EUR 4m this year.
Of that, EUR 3.6m will be spent on supplies and services, EUR 100,000 for transfers to individuals and households, and EUR 300,000 for other domestic transfers, Finance Ministry data show.
The Foreign Ministry spent roughly EUR 1.2m on helping refugees in Turkey and Western Balkans, a figure projected to drop in 2019, with the Slovenian Armed Forces booking EUR 2.4m in migrations-related expenses.
The Interior Ministry, the Public Administration Ministry, the Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief, the government's secretariat-general, and the Financial Administration did not have any migration-related expenses last year.
The Health Ministry did not spend any money on migrants either, although hospitals and health centres recorded around EUR 338,000 in migration-related expenses.
All our stories on migrants and Slovenia can be found here