Austria Threatens Tighter Border Controls Unless EU Tackles Migrant Crisis

The EU’s asylum policy has failed and member states should consider “individual measures” if the union fails to secure its wider border, Austria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration has said. If it fails to, he will consider tighter border controls around Austria, he threatened.

Speaking shortly before the Western Balkan Conference on Thursday in Vienna, Sebastian Kurz (pictured above speaking with his British counterpart Philip Hammond) criticised the implementation of the Dublin Agreement, Vienna Online reports, which is supposed to ensure migrants apply for asylum in the first member state they enter.

Talking to the BBC later, Kurz, of the right-wing Austrian People’s Party, explained: “The truth is the Dublin agreement is not working… the idea of a union without borders inside, also needs a functional border control at the external borders.”

A record number of 107,500 migrants crossed the EU’s borders last month alone. If the situation continues, Kurz warned, he wants to rapidly process migrants entering Austria to determine what EU nations they have passed through first.

He said was he “not surprised” that Hungry had sought to protect it’s border by building a fence, and that unless the EU developed a holistic approach to the refugee crisis, “then states are indeed forced to put in place individual measures.”

The Foreign Minister said that the present day migrant crisis differs from that sparked by the Balkans war in the 1990s, because there is a blurring of economic and security incentives. He said:

“Now we have the situation that the refugees indeed begin their flight due to the poor security situation, or because of persecution, but that there may well be economic reasons that they then move out of the region.”

He added that there is also a danger posed by radical Islam in transit countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, where Islamic State is operative, and said he would not rule out Austrian intervention against the terrorist state.

Vice-President of the European Parliament and Austrian Green party politician, Ulrike Lunacek, denounced Kurz’s comments and called on Austria to follow Germany’s example in suspending the Dublin regulation by welcoming everyone from Syria, no matter how many safe countries they have passed through first.

Austria sits on the so-called Balkans land route, used by migrants entering the EU via Greece and Turkey to reach Germany and Sweden.

At present, around 3,000 migrants a day cross from Greece into Macedonia; 90,000 have passed through Serbia and 80,000 have claimed asylum in Austria since the beginning of the year.


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