Austria to ‘Protect’ Border with Italy, Slovenia If German Migrant Deal Goes into Force

Austria to ‘Protect’ Border with Italy, Slovenia If German Migrant Deal Goes into Force

Austria’s leadership has declared it will “take measure to protect” the country’s southern border (which it shares with Italy and Slovenia) if the German government deal for limiting the influx of migrants goes into effect.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, and the Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache from the far-right Freedom Party issue on Tuesday a joint statement vowing to prevent any negative consequences for Austria that might result from the German migrant deal.

“Should this agreement become the German government’s position, we see that as prompting us to take action to prevent negative consequences for Austria and its population,” the three Austria leaders said.

“The [Austrian] government is therefore prepared in particular to take measures for the protection of our southern border,” they stated without elaborating with respect to the border that Austria shares with Italy and Slovenia.

Later on Tuesday, Kurz declared in a speech at the European Parliament in Brussels that the German government crisis caused by the migration issue had demonstrated the need to protect the external borders of the European Union.

“Securing the external border is the basis for securing internal mobility [in the EU],” said the Chancellor of Austria, as cited by DW.

On July 1, 2018, Austria assumed the six-month rotating Presidency of the European Council from Bulgaria.

On Monday, after weeks of a simmering conflict between her ruling center right party CDU and its Bavarian sister party CSU, German Chancellor Angela Merkel acquiesced to the demands of her Interior Minister and CSU leader Horst Seehofer.

She agreed to the introduction of a new border regime at the German – Austrian border, and on setting up “transit centers” enabling the German authorities to turn back any asylum seekers who have already been registered in another EU member state.

While the Merkel – Seehofer deal has rescued the decades-long alliance between the CDU and the CSU, it is yet to be approved by the third partner in Germany’s ruling coalition, the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

In the first five months of 2018, there were about 4,600 “unauthorized entries” at Germany’s border with Austria, of whom 2,450 were sent back, Reuters reports, citing data from the German police.

There have been growing fears in Austria that a tougher regime at the German border would lead to the amassing of migrants on Austrian territory.

“Austria and in particular Salzburg can and must in no case become a ‘waiting area’ for migrants,” Wilfried Haslauer, the conservative governor of Salzburg province which borders Germany, is quoted as saying.

(Banner image: Flickr)

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