Slovenia to ban transit of migrants from midnight
09 March 2016, 08:12
Ljubljana - Slovenia announced on Tuesday that it will refuse to allow the transit of migrants across its territory from midnight (23:00 GMT), apart from "humanitarian" exceptions, in a bid to shut off the Balkan migrant route once and for all.
Serbia said it would "align all measures" with the fellow Balkan country, saying it "cannot accept becoming a reception centre for refugees".
Both nations, along with Austria, Croatia and Macedonia, have dramatically restricted entry to migrants in recent weeks, leaving a bottleneck of some 36 000 stuck at the Greek-Macedonian border, unable to continue their journey to northern Europe.
Access to Slovenia will now only be granted to "foreigners meeting the requirements to enter the country", those wishing to claim asylum, and migrants selected "on a case by case basis on humanitarian grounds and in accordance with the rules of the Schengen zone", a statement from the interior ministry said.
The tiny EU nation said that restoring order to the Schengen zone would mean that "migration can no longer be possible along the Balkan route as it has been until now".
Serbia said the Slovakian move "practically closes the Balkans route" used by hundreds of thousands of refugees and other migrants over the last year, and indicated that it was following suit.
"Taking into account the new regime implemented by a European Union member, Serbia, so it will align all measures with the European Union and implement them reciprocally at its southern and eastern borders, with Macedonia and Bulgaria respectively," it said.