RUPA, September 5, 2020 — As All Saints Day nears, Croatians hope to visit graves of family and friends across the Slovenian border. The holiday, also known as Day of the Dead, falls on November 1, or the day after Halloween. However, Slovenian officials are blocking their entry.
COVID-19 pandemic safety measures continue to intensify at the Croatia-Slovenia border due to the deteriorating situation in Croatia. Slovenia removed Croatia from their list of ‘green’ countries on July 6, when they downgraded their eastern neighbor to ‘yellow’. Then, on August 24, Croatia landed on Slovenia’s ‘red’ list. Now, anyone entering Slovenia from Croatia is subject to a 14-day quarantine.
The Slovenian border is also of particular significance due to its position as entry into the highly-coveted Schengen Area.
Croatians are becoming worried because they have family and friends buried in cemeteries across the border in Slovenia. Local media reports that Slovenian authorities are preventing them from accessing graves so they can prepare them for All Saints Day. This means that they cannot even place candles on memorials to commemorate the anniversary of their loved ones’ passing. That is exactly what happened to Đeni Šamanić.
Slovenia Border Officials: Grave Visits Not Necessary
“They told me at the border that there was no need for me to go to the cemetery. They claim that it is not necessary. Nor do they consider it important. No one cares that I would like to go and put a candle on my parents’ grave to remember their anniversary,” she revealed to Dnevnik.
Šamanić lives in Rupa, which sits on the very edge of the Slovenian border. Her parents are buried in Jelšane, on the other side, just two kilometers away. Croatians may cross the border to attend funerals, but must return within 24 hours. However that provision does not apply to cemetery visits.
“For now, due to the COVID-19 situation, they cannot visit their grave sites. And Slovenian police officers will not allow them to enter their country for that reason,” explained Sanjin Milih. He is the head officer on the Croatian side of the border.
Furthermore, Željka Šarčević Grgić, Mayor of Klana (near Rupa) wrote to both Croatian and Slovenian authorities regarding the issue. Locals also recently held a meeting in Ilirska Bistrica in an attempt to find a solution.
Grgić declared that Slovenia would be relaxing border crossing measures. However in cases like Šamanić’s, it appears that these measures have become even more strict.
Croatia Foreign Minster: Reflection of Relations Between Countries
In addition, Goran Grlić-Radman, Croatia’s Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, released a statement in response to the allegations. “These are serious problems. While it is true that they are local, they are actually a reflection of relations between our two countries. We would appreciate it if the Slovenes would address our citizens’ concerns regarding their right to visit the cemeteries.”
“Slovenia wants to be flexible and find a way for these visits to happen by November 1,” claims government spokesman Jelko Kacin.
Slovenian portal 24.ur called attention to the allegation on Dnevnik that “Slovenia is once again dictating the life of Croatians on the border.”
In response, the portal justified Slovenia’s restrictive border crossing measures. On Thursday, “Croatia reported a record number of new COVID-19 infections” with a total of 369 new cases.