Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has said that it would be “fatal” to consider the migrant crisis over. He also criticised German Chancellor Angela Merkel over her migrant policy and dominance in the European Union (EU).
Speaking to OVB Online, Foreign Minister Kurz, a staunch critic of Merkel’s migrant policies and who had claimed that Europe had “lost control” of her borders, stated that much had changed in the last year, exclaiming: “Thank God!”
Affirming that the migrant crisis was “not a purely German phenomenon,” he reflected on reaction to his scepticism of the German chancellor’s open-door mass migration policies.
“When I criticised the open borders and insisted that we stop the inflow, I was massively criticised.”
“My position was a minority position that was sharply criticised in the media and was not accepted by the majority of the population at the time.”
“For many things I said, I was scolded a year ago. Now there is applause.”
A vocal critic of Turkey’s accession to the EU, having previously said that “dictatorial” Turkey has no place in the bloc, he affirmed that he does not trust Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to honour the EU-Turkey migrant deal.
Kurz stressed that the continent, instead, needs to secure her external borders in advance of further waves of migrants attempting to enter Europe, noting that even with the EU-Turkey deal in place illegals are still crossing the border daily.
“It would be fatal to believe that the crisis has been resolved because there are still thousands of people crossing the external borders every week.”
When asked to respond to criticisms that he was “heartless” for favouring strict migrant policies, Kurz responded that what is worse are “smugglers earning more and more money” and the “drowning of countless [people] in the Mediterranean”.
“We must, therefore, make it clear that anyone who is found illegally crossing Europe is stopped… He has no chance to get to Central Europe. When we do [this], we end the illegal migratory flows, withdraw the trafficking business, and the most important thing, we end the dying.”
Asked whether he thought the “humanitarian imperative” of Chancellor Merkel was related to her desire for “Germany to be on the right side of history this time”, Kurz responded that though he felt many politicians do not have the same sense of historical responsibility as Austria or Germany, “the basic reflex to help had resulted in consequences that many have perhaps not originally considered”.
Alluding to Merkel’s position in the EU, the Austrian foreign minister reflected that “Germany has a very strong role in Europe”, but strong nations need to be “sensitive” in order to not appear to dominate in the bloc.
“To this extent, the strong role of Germany is a very difficult and important task which must be carried out with a delicate touch so that the sense of balance does not tip.”
In reaction to the Austrian Foreign Minister’s comments, Merkel’s CDU party General Peter Tauber hit back and told Die Welt: “The decisive difference [between Kurz and Merkel] is that Angela Merkel has the responsibility not only for Germany, but also for Europe.”
Tauber insisted that Merkel’s open border policy had been right because she had secured the “stability of the Balkans”.
“What would happen if we had actually closed the border and left the countries of the Balkans with the many refugees?” Said the secretary general. “These countries would not have been stable and strong enough to cope with this. Social conflicts can quickly worsen, violence could have occurred.”
However, social conflicts and violence have erupted in Northern Europe including mass sexual assaults and rapes by young migrant men, and terror attacks committed by migrants, following the influx of 1.1 million migrants who entered Germany alone last year.