Slovenia gives more power to army amid refugee crisis

Slovenian Army to be given more power to assist in guarding border as more refugees continue to enter country from Croatia

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Slovenian police help migrants at Trnovec border crossing after being stranded in poor weather conditions in Trnovec ,Croatia.

The parliament of Slovenia passed legislation on Wednesday that will give the army more power to assist police with guarding the state border as thousands of refugees continue to flow into the country from Croatia after Hungary closed off its border.

This new legislation will allow soldiers to control borders when police are not present. The army already began assisting with the guarding of the border on Monday, but until now they have done so only when police were present.

Prime Minister Miro Cerar told reporters before the vote in parliament, "[On Wednesday] we will officially ask the EU ... for police back-up and for financial help."

Opposition parties continue to urge the government to follow in the footsteps of Hungary and put up a fence on Slovenia’s border with Croatia in order to stop an increasing number of refugees from entering.

An interior ministry official has said that the possibility "of safeguarding border crossings with physical obstacles" is something that will be considered if the number of refugees attempting to enter Slovenia rises in the coming days.

Slovenia’s efforts to stop the flood of refugees since Hungary closed its border with Croatia on Friday have created knock-on effects throughout the Balkans, with thousands being stranded at border crossings.

At least 12,100 refugees currently remain in Serbia, Cerar said on Tuesday. Approximately 6,000 refugees entered Austria from Slovenia on Tuesday, a police spokesman in the province of Styria has said.

Slovenia, which is the smallest country on the Balkan route for refugees and has a population of two million, has positioned 140 soldiers on the border in order to help police handle the refugee situation.

Over 500,000 refugees have arrived by sea to Greece this year and the number of arrivals is expected to greatly increase, with refugees making a rush to avoid the harsh conditions of winter, the UN has said.

Most of the refugees are aiming to reach Macedonia and then cross over to Serbia with the aim of reaching Western Europe through countries such as Slovenia and Croatia, trying to avoid the path they previously took through Hungary.

TRTWorld and agencies