slovenija pahor.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Damir SENČAR / ds

Slovenia's President Borut Pahor on Tuesday expressed fear of the reintroduction of border checks at some borders within the Schengen Area, while the country's Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec, explained that the stricter measures at the border with Croatia were aimed at checking the military status of refugees and migrants.

"These procedures are not directed against those people who meet all the requirements and are seeking international protection. Instead, people suspected of having participated in the conflicts in Syria are being checked," Slovenia's foreign minister told reporters on the margins of a gathering of Slovenian diplomats at Brdo Pri Kranju.

Similar measures, he said, are being conducted in other European Union countries and not just Slovenia. Identity checks are being conducted of migrants who may have been military personnel in the Syrian conflict in cooperation with other intelligence services," Erjavec said and added that so far there had not been any such case recorded amongst migrants and refugees entering Slovenia from Croatia.

In response to the news that certain European countries in the Schengen Area intend to reintroduce border checks due to the refugee crisis, and unconfirmed news that Italy plans to introduce a document check for all entries into Italy from Slovenia as the number of migrants seeking asylum in Italy has increased, Slovenia's President advocated an all-European solution that would not jeopardise the future of the Schengen Area which is free of border checks of passengers and goods.

"Introducing border checks would not mean anything good for Schengen, but that is definitely not the end of Schengen," Pahor said, as carried by the Slovenian STA news agency.

Slovenia's President said that he thought that the reintroduction of border checks within the Schengen Area is a temporary measure due to the large refugee flow, but that most European leaders, like himself, consider that it is necessary to set up a common European asylum and immigration policy so that Schengen, as one of the greatest achievements in the development of European integration, is not jeopardised.

"The free crossings of borders is considered by people as a great freedom and legacy. If now, because there is no common European policy, national governments in the European Union unilaterally adopt their own special measures and limit that freedom, then that would lead to the danger of changing the general mentality in Europe, and the hope and faith that was characteristic during the large EU enlargement would be replaced by fear and despondence," Pahor said.

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