June 13, 2018 – If Austria closes its border with Slovenia to migrants, there will be a domino effect and Bosnia will have to close its own borders with Serbia and Montenegro, an official has warned.
If Austria and Slovenia seal their borders to migrants, Bosnia and Herzegovina will be forced to close its own borders with Serbia and Montenegro, Slobodan Ujic, Director of the Foreigners’ Service of Bosnia, warned on Tuesday.
The warning comes as Austria prepares to deply about 1,000 members of the police and armed forces on June 25 in an exercise designed to show its can defend its border against a feared new migrant wave.
At a security conference in Slovenia on June 7, police chiefs from countries along the so-called Balkan migration routes noted a significant rise in the number of illegal border crossings, prompting Austria to order its largest-ever border patrol exercise.
Franz Lang, director of Austria’s Criminal Police Office, described the situation in the Balkans as critical, with some 80,000 asylum seekers currently making their way through the region towards Western Europe, according to the right-wing website, Breitbart.
It quoted Austria’s Interior Minister Herbert Kickl as saying: “We must be prepared for the possibility of sudden, huge migration flows … in the event that fledgeling border forces in neighbouring Balkans nations lose control of the situation.”
Officials in Bosnia say growing number of migrants are illegally crossing the Bosnian border from Serbia and Montenegro, using Bosnia as a new transit route on their way to Western Europe.
“These are mixed migrations where only 20 per cent are refugees. The rest are economic migrants, among which are countless families coming from 45 different countries,” Ujic told the news agency FENA on Tuesday.
Considering the rising number of migrants who had entered Bosnia in the past few months, Bosnia is facing both a humanitarian and security problem, he added.
From January to the end of May, authorities in Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania registered more than 6,700 new migrants and asylum-seekers, which was more than twice the 2,600 migrants and asylum-seekers registered in the three countries for the whole of 2017.