The cooperation between Slovenia and Croatia - a potential passport-free Schengen area member - in controlling illegal migration is good, but the barbed wire Slovenia put up along the border is staying, Slovenia's Interior Minister Vesna Gjerkes-Znidar said, adding that Slovenia is in control of the migration flow on its Schengen border.
"Croatia undertook many measures that are necessary (for border control) and we maintain good cooperation at both political and operational levels. But as a candidate to join the Schengen area, it must control the migration flows on the EU's external border, which is a big challenge," she said, reported by the Slovenian Delo daily on Thursday.
Gjerkes-Znidar added that she and her Austrian counterpart Herbert Kickl had recently discussed how to assist Croatia if it proves to be necessary, because the external EU border controlled by Croatia "is still too porous and too many migrants are still coming into the Schengen area."
That is the reason why it would be a wrong move to remove the barbed wire and barriers set up by the Slovenian government on its border with Croatia during the 2015 migration crisis, she said.
"It would serve as a signal that the border is open, which is unacceptable, and would certainly cause massive pressures on (our) border," Gjerkes-Znidar said.
Although Croatia had joined the EU in July 2013, it is still not a member of the bloc's passport-free travel Schengen area. Slovenia, on the other hand, had joined the EU in 2004, and the Schengen area in 2007.
The unprecedented influx of migrants from the Middle East travelling the so-called Balkan route towards western European countries in 2015 ceased after the EU had signed an agreement with Turkey. But an alternative route was recently established with increasing numbers of migrants travelling through Bosnia, trying to pass through Croatia and into Slovenia to reach the Schengen area.
The right of Slovenian citizens to security is prescribed by the country's constitution, so it is necessary to prevent illegal migration, she said, adding that illegal migration "will be a big political and economic challenge for (Slovenia's) new government, and it is necessary to clearly define the limits of our absorption capacities for asylum seekers."