boštjan šefic.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Tamino PETELINŠEK / STA / mm

In preparation for a new regime for migrant entries announced by Austria for this week, Slovenia has, as of Saturday until Monday, refused entry for 154 migrants who did not satisfy criteria to enter Slovenia and continue on route toward Austria, Slovenia's state secretary for migration, Bostjan Sefic said on Monday.

"These migrants were returned to Croatia. We are trying to consistently determine from which countries migrants are arriving and the purpose of their journey and only after detailed checks, we are allowing them to continue on," Sefic said.

He underscored that cooperation between Slovenian authorities and neighbouring countries and countries on the Balkan refugee route was very good, particularly with Austria.

Austria is autonomously adopting its decisions on tightening criteria for the reception of refugees and Slovenia is doing the same, Sefic said, adding that it was Slovenia's right to adopt these measures so that it does not become a hot spot in which a larger number of migrants who are not wanted by central or northern Europe would spend more time.

Slovenia's official admitted that the interior ministry was having difficulties in securing capacities for the temporary reception of refugees but also that there was a lot of misinformation circulating and that no final decisions had been made.

"Refugees would spend 14 hours at the most in centres like that and not days or months," he said and added that local authorities would be involved in that case.

Austria will on Thursday begin to apply the new criteria and measures required to reduce the refugee wave and the number of potential asylum seekers in their country. Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner is expected to announce the new measures on Tuesday at the Spielfeld border crossing with Slovenia, Slovenian television has reported.

Based on unofficial sources, Slovenian media have reported that the maximum number of refugees per day that Austria will accept will be 2,500 and that it will only accept those people fleeing from war zones and not countries proclaimed as safe, that means from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan only.

Austria will also reject anyone stating that they wish to study or work in Austria or Germany, while people wishing to be reunited with relatives already living in Europe will be placed in a special category, Slovenian media claim.

The measures allegedly also entail the extension of protective fences at the Sentilj/Spielfeld border crossing to direct all refugee transport. The Austrian army and police will tighten border controls between Slovenia and Austria to prevent illegal crossings.

Additional police and army checks have already been noticed on the Austrian side at border crossings, including random document checks, Slovenian Radio reported on Monday afternoon.

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