A joint border patrol mission between Italy and Slovenia started Monday. The aim is to stem the flow of migrants reaching the north-eastern Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia from the eastern border.
A joint Italian-Slovenian border patrol officially began Monday. The main aim of the cross-border collaboration between the police forces is to stem the flow of migrants who cross into Italian territory from the eastern border, authorities said.
To start, four joint patrols have been planned per week with two Italian border police officers and two Slovenian colleagues who can be deployed in an area of up to 10 kilometers within their respective territories.
Massimiliano Fedriga, governor of the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, said ''we have been working for months on the initiative'' because ''Italy's political-diplomatic pressure on Slovenia, as well as on Balkan countries, has increased." He added that the measure is "a start, not a solution."
Italy is ready ''to adopt other'' measures, the governor also said, including the suspension of Schengen rules, ''as already done by Austria with Slovenia'', or erecting a border barrier in northeastern Italy, The barrier, the governor added, would not be erected along the entire border, as previously reported, "but potentially on some of the most critical points," citing the woods in the Karst region, in order to "channel undocumented (migrants) along routes that are easy to control." Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has repeatedly spoken over the past few days of "sealing the eastern border."
Slovenia says no emergency at the border with Italy
Speaking at a press conference at the former Lipica border crossing to mark the start of the joint patrols, Slovenian authorities said there "is no emergency at the border with Italy." Since the start of the year, said the director general of Slovenian police, Marian Stubljar, ''the readmissions of illegal (migrants) from Italy to Slovenia were 146 against 158 last year." The most critical situation in terms of migrant arrivals today is at the border with Croatia, the Slovenian official said.
As of June 29, Slovenian police at the border with Croatia registered 5,306 illegal crossings, compared to 3,612 in 2018, noted Stubljar. Most of them were ''Afghan, Algerian and Pakistani citizens." Therefore the situation remains critical outside the Schengen area ''at the border with Bosnia," said the official.
Patrols to prevent migrants from crossing into Italy
Although readmissions have not increased compared to last year, Italian authorities explained, the aim of the joint border patrols is to prevent migrants from entering national territory. Once they have crossed into Italy, they cannot be sent back if they apply for asylum, the officials said. Vincenzo Avallone, the official in charge of the so-called Fourth zone of the Udine border police, said authorities ''expect good results'' from the operation.
Further developments in immigration policies could follow the visit of Deputy Premier Salvini who is expected on Friday to travel to Trieste, the main city of Friuli Venezia Giulia.