Slovenia’s prime minister to call for aid in refugee crisis

Emergency EU meeting comes amid reports that Germany is pushing for state quotas

Slovenian prime minister Miro Cerar: “If these countries tighten the access for migrants, we will be forced to do likewise.” Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

Slovenian prime minister Miro Cerar: “If these countries tighten the access for migrants, we will be forced to do likewise.” Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

 

Leaders of Balkan nations and a cluster of EU states at the frontline of the refugee crisis gather for an emergency meeting in Brussels on Sunday, as Slovenia’s prime minister Miro Cerar pledged to call for the “urgent provision of financial, material and personnel support” to help Balkan countries deal with the situation.

Speaking to The Irish Times, the Slovenian leader said erecting fences was not the solution to the refugee crisis, as it “only resulted in shifting the pressure elsewhere”. But he warned that Slovenia would be forced to consider other options if Austria and Germany tightened access to migrants further.

“If these countries tighten the access for migrants, we will be forced to do likewise, and – if this happens – I would not exclude any specific measure on our side to secure what is our Schengen border with Croatia. ”

Slovenia has found itself at the centre of the migration crisis since Hungary closed its border with Croatia, forcing thousands of refugees to re-route and enter the Schengen area through the Croation-Slovenian border.

Mr Cerar said he would call for the “urgent provision of financial, material and personnel support in border control and migration management” at Sunday’s meeting.

‘Unnecessary suffering’

“This practice also causes unnecessary suffering of migrants,” he added.

Mr Cerar said Slovenia, which has been accepting refugees passing through on their way to Austria, had a good relationship with its northern neighbour.

“Co-ordination with Austria has been good all along, although we would wish Austria could accept the migrants at a faster pace so as to enable us to cope more easily with the huge migrant flows directed at our borders by Croatia.”

Sunday’s summit, though not a meeting of the full 28 EU leaders, was convened by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, a departure from the usual practice which typically sees the president of the European Council convening summits.

Quotas

Although the EU agreed to a relocation programme for refugees last month, this was cast as a temporary measure, with the European Commission’s suggestion of a binding, permanent scheme deferred amid vociferous opposition from a number of east European member states.

Resettlement initiative

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The proposal is being targeted for announcement early next week.

This week’s European People’s Party (EPP) conference in Madrid laid bare the deep divisions in even centre-right governments throughout the European Union, with Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban warning of an “unlimited source” of refugees seeking to enter the European Union.