Slovenian authorities have apprehended 39 migrants who were trying to cross the border with Croatia illegally, local police have said.
Slovenian police said that security officials apprehended a total of 39 migrants over the weekend. They were reportedly trying to cross the border with Croatia without a visa. Only two applied for international protection and were taken to a center for asylum seekers, officials said. Procedures are reportedly ongoing to hand over the other migrants to Croatian security forces.
Police on Monday said a car with an Italian license plate was stopped by police on Friday. Officers reportedly discovered eight Pakistanis and three Tunisians hidden inside. The driver managed to escape while the migrants were handed over to Croatian officials.
A similar incident was reported late on Sunday, when police in Erpelle-Cosina stopped a truck with eight Turkish citizens on board. The driver, a 45-year-old Italian, was arrested.
Premier rejects criticism from opposition
Illegal crossings of Slovenia's border with Croatia have increased more than eight-fold over the last two years in Slovenia but the country should not be blamed as the management of migration flows is an international problem, said Premier Marjan Sarec.
The prime minister was responding in parliament to criticism from the main opposition party, the conservative Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS).
Lawmaker Zvonko Cernac accused the government of being unable to protect the country's border and not being interested in protecting its citizens. The lawmaker cited the fact that cabinet members did not attend a protest in Crnomelj as an example of that. A man was recently abducted in the southern area by three migrants who used his car to drive to Italy, where they were arrested and handed back to Slovenian authorities.
Sarec rejected allegations that the government has been weak in dealing with an increasing number of crossings.
419 officers at the border with Croatia
Sarec said 419 police officers are deployed at the border with Croatia, along with the military. Over the past few weeks the army has sent an increasing number of units to help security officials monitor the border.
Sarec also said that, in case of need, it is possible to invoke article 37 of the Constitution on the protection of national territory to give more power to the army. "The situation right now is not as serious as to require such an option," he said.