Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

Slovenia decides to dismantle the anti-migration barbed wire fence separating it from Croatia

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Thursday, June 16th 2022 à 15:55 | Read 520 times

The barbed wire fence had been erected in late 2015 between Slovenia and Croatia (photo: DR)
The barbed wire fence had been erected in late 2015 between Slovenia and Croatia (photo: DR)
SLOVENIA / CROATIA. On Wednesday 15 June 2022, Robert Golob announced the removal of the barbed wire fence at the border between Slovenia and Croatia. The President of the Slovenian government put forward two arguments to justify his choice: "for humanitarian reasons and because it has failed to achieve its objective. It has indeed failed to discourage migrants from crossing it and has even caused some to divert to more dangerous road accesses into Slovenia."

The case caused a scandal in the winter of 2015. In the midst of the migration crisis, the conservative Slovenian government of Miro Cerar (Modern Centre Party - SMC) decided to build the fence. The authorities feared an influx of 30,000 people in the coming days. Between October 2015 and March 2016, some 500,000 migrants crossed the country in an attempt to reach Austria and Italy.

In addition to the humanitarian aspect, Slovenia had been blamed for this 200 km barrier (about a third of the total 671 km border with Croatia) physically separating two European Union member states. But one of them, Croatia, did not belong to the Schengen area (it will join in 2024). The hypothesis of building a similar fence with Italy had also been considered before being rejected.

However, the then President of the Government insisted that "the barriers are not intended to prevent arrivals in Slovenia or to reduce them significantly (...). Their purpose is to direct the flow of migrants to the controlled entry points."

An election promise

The fence, often referred to as the "fence of shame", should be dismantled by the end of June 2022. This was one of the election promises of Robert Golob, who was sworn into office on 1 June 2022. His liberal party Movement for Freedom (Gibanje Svoboda) won the parliamentary elections of 25 May 2022 with 34.5% of the vote against 23.6% for the conservative incumbent Janez Janša of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS). The latter defended the installation of the barbed wire and fought against the arrival of migrants on Slovenian soil.

In parallel to this announcement, the new president of the government presented measures to improve and accelerate the procedures for processing the cases of migrants from Ukraine or those arriving on its territory via the Mediterranean Sea.

According to a very recent study by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), half of the irregular entries between January and May 2022 at Europe's external borders were made via the Western Balkans.

The 40,675 illegal crossings recorded over this period are 167% higher than in the first five months of 2021. These are mainly Syrians, Afghans and Turks. The Agency does not consider the more than 5.5 million Ukrainians who fled their country to one of the 27 Member States as illegal entrants. They are therefore not included in these data.

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