Koerner: Frontex to Operate Soon in Balkans

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The Slovak-Ukrainian border. (Stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, September 19 (TASR) – Frontex must be more effective and faster to be able to deal with difficult tasks at the EU’s outer borders, Frontex Deputy Executive Director Berndt Koerner said at a press conference in Bratislava on Monday.

If an EU member country asks Frontex for support, it should be given it within five days. Moreover, Frontex (European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union) is also planning to engage in joint operations in third countries in the future.

“In the past we were able to work only on territories of EU member states, but based on agreements that are currently being concluded, we’ll also be able to cooperate better with Balkan countries, for example,” said Koerner.

Meanwhile, the EU border protection agency will carry out stress tests on borders of individual countries “in order to get a better notion of the situation in the Schengen Area and to identify possible vulnerable points and fix them.”

According to him, 2015 witnessed an unprecedented migrant flow to the EU, with the main route going through Greece, seeing some 800,000 migrants coming to Europe, while another 160,000 came in through Italy.

“There was a huge number of people smugglers, with their profits reaching some €4 billion,” said Koerner.

The situation in 2016 has improved, however, with the migration routes being governed more effectively at the moment, including the setting up of hotspots in Greece and Italy to subject migrants to necessary checks. Also, much has been done with respect to collection of intelligence information, said the Frontex deputy executive director.

Koerner also commented on the situation in Slovakia. “The [EU’s] eastern border is tranquil compared to the Mediterranean, and especially the section controlled by Slovakia is very, very quiet.” He added that Frontex has received 100 police officers from Slovakia this year and it has deployed them in various missions.

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