About 300 inhabitants of Istria County and the Buje border area and considerably fewer from the Slovenian side of the border gathered at the Sveta Lucija-Brezovica border crossing on Saturday, on both sides of a razor wire fence put up by Slovenia to keep away migrants, to protest together against all wire fences that stand in the way of human freedom.

They carried banners reading "Killer wire", "Wire changes customs" and "Against a life surrounded by wire". The Slovenian protesters brought a straw effigy of Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar and put it on the fence.

"Wire fences in Istria, Europe and the rest of the world are a big disgrace, proof of a lack of freedom and an indicator of fear, representing everything which are not the values of Istrians, who nurture tolerance, peace, freedom and openness," said Natalija Grgorinic of Liznjan. "This isn't the solution, it isn't an invitation to dialogue, but the spreading of fear, hatred and enmity. Those who put up the wire fence should come here and remove it. Barbed wire must not be the message which Europe sends to the world."

"If we are Europeans and respect European values, we must remember that this barbed wire caused big wounds to our continent not that many years ago," Grgorinic said. Animals are dying on the fence, it is an ecological, moral and human disaster, and it brings back the times of darkness and lack of freedom, she added.

Many cultural figures were among the protesters. The director of the Book Fair(y) book fair, Magdalena Vodopija, said the wire fence "is choking us" and "we can't survive like this in the middle of Istria, surrounded by wire."

Istrian ethnomusicologist Dario Marusic said the wire fence "is definitely and intervention into the soul," while Oprtalj mayor Aleksander Krt said wire fences were a symbol of human suffering and not a solution.

A volleyball match was symbolically played , with the Croatian and Slovenian teams throwing the ball over the fence a few times.

Since mid-September, 516,815 migrants and refugees fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa have passed through Croatia on their way to western and northern Europe, the Interior Ministry said on Saturday.

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