Slovak interior minister Robert Kaliňák has written to his Austrian counterpart, Maria Theresia Fekter, requesting an explanation for an Austrian police action on Saturday, March 21, in which Slovak passengers travelling on a municipal bus service between Bratislava and the nearby Austrian town of Hainburg on Saturday were subjected to identity checks.
Slovak Interior Ministry spokesman Erik Tomas told the TASR newswire on Tuesday that Kaliňák had also asked whether a repeat can be expected in the future and, if so, what the criteria would be. “I believe nobody is interested in devaluing the ideals of the Schengen agreement, which is based precisely on the free movement of people,” said Kalinak.
Slovakia joined the border-free Schengen zone in December 2007 and border checks are not normally carried out on people travelling between Slovakia and Austria.
According to media reports, passengers on the bus, which was operating on a newly extended route to Hainburg, were forced to disembark and were checked for about twenty minutes, with policemen focusing mainly on identity documents. This caused delays in the bus schedule.
The local bus route, which has been operating as far as Wolfstahl in Austria for the last ten months, has carried around 30,000 passengers since it began. March 21 was its first day of operation to Hainburg. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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25. Mar 2009 at 11:00