Slovenia is being overwhelmed by the migrant crisis, particularly in the small town of Brezice where the local mayor has likened the situation to a warzone and called on Germany to intervene.
Brezice sits right on the border of Slovenia and Croatia, which in recent days has become the focus of the migrant crisis in the region. In the last 24 hours alone more than 12,000 migrants have crossed into Slovenia, with thousands more expected to follow.
The mayor of Brezice, 52-year-old Ivan Molan, has been interviewed by the German news magazine Der Spiegel about the effect the crisis is having on his town. He described the current situation as the biggest loss of control and largest state of emergency of his ten-year tenure.
It has been alleged by the likes of the BBC that a lack of water and food, coupled with a delay in processing, led to angry scenes with migrants setting fire to the tents in which they were housed. The mayor, however, gives another explanation.
Mr. Molan showed his interviewer a picture on his cell phone of discarded bread and other food lying on the ground. He explained:
“We organise food and water.But some refugees refuse it in order to increase the pressure, so we let them move on. 50 to 100 Slovenian assistants are available around the clock. The system does not work perfectly, but it works. The best proof is that there were no major conflicts.”
The interviewer pointed out that although there may have been no major acts of violence, over half the tents intended to house the migrants had been set of fire. Mr. Molan responded:
“That’s the way many refugees force their onward journey. Some take selfies before the burning tents [as reported yesterday by Breitbart London]. If I were in their place I would be happy to be in a safe country and have a drink and get to eat. But they are not satisfied with what they have.”
Mr. Molan said his town is in the vicinity of a nuclear power plant and is hit by occasional flooding and even the odd earthquake, but the impact of the migrant crisis is “much more serious”. He says it restricts the life of everyone in the community, both the 24,000 inhabitants and the authorities who have to deal with it.
Furthermore, Mr. Molan says that he fears Austria’s decision to close its borders as he believes Slovenia cannot cope alone. In his opinion, if the German government is sincere in its welcome to refugees then it should send trains to collect those in Croatia, alleviating their suffering.
Mr. Molan believes that realistically Slovenia can only house “2,000 people, nothing more” citing the country’s relative economic weakness and ability of local communities to integrate newcomers. He wants the remaining migrants to travel to countries with stronger economies.
The recent decision of the Slovenian government to amend the law in order to allow the army to help police the border will not solve the crisis, Mr. Molan said. He pointed out that they are only there to assist the police with registering the migrants and that will do nothing to prevent trouble coming into the country. He offered his suggested solution:
“We must resolve the crisis in Syria and the other countries refugees come from. The [European Union] must step up its efforts for peace in Syria and support Turkey and Greece in dealing with the situation.”
Mr. Molan ended by giving a stark warning of the consequences of failure to solve the migrant crisis:
“Sooner or later, more than a million refugees will have come to the EU. This could shatter the international community.”