Slovenia’s former prime minister Janez Jansa has caused a political storm by urging Slovenians to arm themselves ahead of an expected new influx of migrants via the Balkan route after the outbreak of fighting in Israel.
There has already been a sharp increase in migration from the Middle East and North Africa via the Western Balkans to EU members, with Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia being the main entry points. Migration declined during the pandemic but has since revived, and there are concerns among governments in Southeast Europe that many more migrants and refugees may travel through the region if the conflict broadens.
Claiming that the current Slovenian administration is not doing enough to prevent illegal migration, Jansa called on citizens to arm themselves. He made the initial comment after a pro-Palestinian rally in Ljubljana on October 20, then followed it up with a lengthy appeal on social network X (formerly Twitter).
"The devil took the joke. Arm yourself. Legally. Thank you to everyone who spread the call. Even to those who are unwilling,” wrote Jansa, a right-winger who has consistently taken a hard line on migration.
“The smart ones understood the call. The smart and responsible will take it into account.
“The rest will trust [Prime Minister Robert] Golob, [Interior Minister Bostjan] Poklukar and [Defence Minister Marjan] Sarec … that they are capable of protecting Slovenia and also protecting them personally in case of terrorist attacks.”
The leaders of Slovenia’s coalition government quickly condemned the former prime minister’s call for people to arm themselves, calling it "completely irresponsible".
Jansa went on to criticise government officials for ignoring calls from his Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) to convene the National Security Council to consider measures to curb illegal migration and manage security risks, as well as for pulling down the fence erected under Jansa’s former government along the border with Croatia.
“The pressure of mass illegal migration is radically destroying the existing way of life in the EU and strengthening militant, proto-terrorist cores in European metropolises. Once safe and thriving cities are seeing an unprecedented increase in crime. Unfortunately, this also includes Ljubljana,” wrote Jansa.
“With the latest incursion of Palestinian terrorists (once in the [Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia] SFRY they were trained en masse in Pančevo [in Serbia]) into Israel, it was once again confirmed how important it is for the people to be well armed in a legal and orderly manner.”
In neighbouring Croatia, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic also expressed concerns, following a meeting with his HDZ party's leadership in Zagreb, about the Israeli-Hamas conflict leading to increased illegal migration, reported N1.
Plenkovic's proposed solution involves reinforcing control over the EU's external borders, with a specific focus on the boundaries between Greece and Turkey, as well as Bulgaria and Turkey. He also urged non-EU Southeast European countries to align their visa policies with the EU.
Plenkovic highlighted the existing migrant route from Sarajevo and Belgrade, involving smugglers guiding migrants to Croatia and Western Europe.
When asked about Jansa's call for Slovenians to obtain legal weapons in anticipation of a potential influx of illegal migrants, Plenkovic responded: "We would never say something like that."
He stressed the importance of maintaining public peace and order through law enforcement authorities in a law-abiding country.