Slovenia said Tuesday it was unable to cope with a massive surge of migrants and refugees arriving in the country from neighbouring Croatia as the government gave the go-ahead for soldiers to help police guard the border.
«The inflow of migrants over the last three days has exceeded all manageable possibilities,» the Slovenian government said in a statement after an all-night emergency meeting, adding that parliament would be asked to approve legislation allowing soldiers to help in the crisis «under very specific circumstances».
Under current law, the army can only provide technical and logistical support.
However, «this does not mean a state of emergency», Prime Minister Miro Cerar told journalists.
State radio said parliament would debate the emergency legislation on Tuesday and that it could enter into force within days.
More than 8,000 people streamed into the tiny EU member state from Croatia on Monday, with Ljubljana warning it could handle no more than 2,500 a day.
The new arrivals will add to the 8,300 migrants seeking already in reception centres in the country of two million people.
The Eastern European nation people has become a new key transit point on the migrant trail, after Hungary sealed its Croatian border with a razor-wire fence to migrants on Saturday just weeks after it had already shut its Serbian frontier.
Tens of thousands – many fleeing violence in Syria, Africa and Afghanistan – have been making their way from Turkey to the Balkans in recent months, hoping to reach Germany, Sweden and other EU states.
Slovenia criticised Zagreb for lifting border restrictions at Croatia’s frontier with Serbia on Monday night, allowing the migrants who had been stranded in wet and muddy conditions for hours to trek to Slovenia.
Ljubljana called for greater European solidarity, warning it was «delusional» to expect small individual countries to handle the spiralling humanitarian crisis alone.
«Slovenia calls on the European Union states and institutions to engage actively in dealing with this disproportionate weight for our state… European solidarity is being challenged,» the government statement said.
«It is delusional to expect a country of two million to (accomplish) what much larger countries haven’t been able to.»
Ljubljana also accused neighbouring Austria of capping its intake of migrants and only allowing in 2,000 on Monday.
But Vienna rejected the claim, saying more than 4,280 people had entered into Austria from Slovenia on Monday.
«There are no restrictions in place,» interior ministry spokesman Karl-Heinz Grundboeck told AFP on Monday.