Austrian vice-chancellor and leader of the populist Freedom Party (FPÖ) Heinz-Christian Strache slammed the European Union border agency Frontex, labelling it a “people-trafficking organisation”.
Vice-chancellor Strache, who has been consistently outspoken against mass migration, made the comments following a meeting in Brussels in his role as Austrian Minister for Sport, slamming Frontex and saying the agency was “anything but a border guard”, Kronen Zeitung reports.
Strache spoke specifically about the rescue operations taking place in the Mediterranean in which migrants are often picked up only a few miles off the coast of Libya and other North African countries. and brought to Europe
He added that the Austrian federal government had not put forward money to send Austrian personnel to the EU external border because Frontex could not guarantee the security of the border.
On July 1st, Austria is set to head the presidency of the Council of the EU and Strache noted that under an Austrian presidency the EU Council would focus far more on mass migration issues and securing the external border.
He also argued against the EU’s compulsory migrant quota system, which has already been slammed by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, saying migrants would likely just move to the EU country of their choice anyway.
“The problem can only be solved by closing the external borders,” Strache insisted.
Europol to Tackle Migrant Routes Under Leadership of New Conservative-Populist Austrian Government
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 14, 2017
In recent months there has been a notable increase in migrants entering the European Union through the Balkan route from Turkey, across the country’s land border with Greece, and from North Africa into Spain.
While the overall numbers are down from previous years, largely due to the Libyan government and the Italian government working to halt the activities of NGOs accused of working with people traffickers, over 20,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean by sea in the first 122 days of this year, according to the UN migration agency.
The true figure may be far higher, considering claims by the Dutch government that two-thirds of the migrants who reach them have not been registered by an EU border state previously.
Mr. Strache’s comments also come only a year after Frontex themselves had warned about migrant rescue NGOs providing a shuttle service for human trafficking, and alerted the political bloc of the dangers of jihadist extremists entering Europe posing as asylum seekers in 2016.