Vanja Bakalović (D),  Inicijativa „Dobrodošli!“, Vedrana Baričević (L), Valter Cvijić .jpg
Photograph: HINA / Tomislav PAVLEK / mm

 The decision to tighten refugee entry criteria, allowing only the transit of persons from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and stopping those who do not come from war-affected countries, is a serious blow to the rule of law and brings people who come in search of a safe haven into an insecure position, activists of the "Welcome" Refugee Support Initiative said on Friday.

Speaking to the press near the Harmica border crossing with Slovenia, they said that separating refugees into those coming from war zones and others was unacceptable because economic migration was inseparable from the political cause, the years-long destabilisation of the Middle East, Africa and neighbouring regions by the US foreign policy and the colonial policy of developed European Union countries.

There is no citizenship which can qualify for international protection because the international asylum system primarily examines the individual fear of prosecution and only then serious injustice and war, said Vanja Bakalovic, the Initiative's lawyer.

She said it was unacceptable to return refugees to Greece because it did not have the capacities to protect them.

The Initiative said the EU never adopted a list of safe countries or criteria to consider a country safe, and that the way decisions were made to return refugees was based on racial profiling.

Asked what the solution was, activist Vedrana Baricevic said the only solution to the current and future refugee crises lay in the responsibility of all EU member states and a protection and integration policy system reform. The solution is in sharing the responsibility and all else will lead to an even deeper crisis, she said, adding that if Europe gave up protecting refugees, it was renouncing its fundamental principles.

Valter Cvijic of Slovenia's Antiracist Front said the aim of separating refugees was to weaken the refugee movement, which raised essential issues for all European citizens. On the one hand, refugees are being segregated, while on the other, they are being pushed towards Turkey, which is an authoritarian state and where they will live in concentration camps and be exposed to violence, he said.

In countries such as Slovenia and others putting up barbed wire on their borders, the refugee issue will not be solvable without derogating democratic standards and the rights of other European citizens, because barbed wire creates an authoritarian climate and reinforces racist violence, Cvijic said.

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