Former Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has warned that a new wave of migrants could be on the horizon as landings in Italy and Greece rise.
The leader of the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP), who faces a national election on Sunday, told German media that he had a “feeling” that the number of migrants crossing into Europe from Africa and the Middle East could once again be on the rise, Kronen Zeitung reports.
“Not only do I have the feeling that something is brewing. But I also have the feeling that we in Europe are partly to blame,” Kurz said.
Kurz slammed the new Italian leftist coalition government saying they had enacted a “reversal in migration policy” by opening the country’s ports to migrant transport NGOs.
This criticism was echoed last week by Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjártó who argued that Europe was safer when populist leader Matteo Salvini occupied the post of interior minister due to his anti-mass migration policies.
Erdogan Threatens to ‘Open the Gates’ to Migrants Unless Turkey Receives Aid https://t.co/oczI9Ol37Q
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 7, 2019
According to Kurz, the open borders attitudes of the new Italian government send “very incorrect signals in the direction of Africa and in the direction of the people smugglers”.
In recent weeks, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has also put pressure of the European Union to aid the building of housing along the Syrian border to accommodate Syrian refugees, threatening to unleash a wave of migrants into Greece if Europe does not contribute.
“If we go on his playing field, then we will pay more and more to him and he will increasingly have the impression that he has us in the palm of his hand,” Kurz said and added: “If people are rescued in the Mediterranean, we should do everything possible to put them back in their countries of origin.”
While Kurz and the ÖVP are expected to come first in Sunday’s snap election, many have speculated who their coalition partner or partners will be.
The populist Freedom Party, whose former leader resigned as a result of the Ibiza scandal that led to the fall of Kurz’s government, is also highly critical of allowing migrant transport NGOs to resume docking in Italy.
Former interior minister Herbert Kickl also slammed plans for an EU-wide migrant redistribution system saying: “The only signal in the right direction would be to rigorously ban NGO ships from docking in European ports and force them to bring people back to their base in North Africa.”
Austria, Research Affairs poll:
ÖVP (EPP)-FPÖ (ID): 27% (-1)
SPÖ (S&D)-GRÜNE (G/EFA)-NEOS (RE): 13% (-1)
ÖVP-GRÜNE-NEOS: 11% (+4)
ÖVP-SPÖ: 10% (+3)
SPÖ-GRÜNE: 9% (+2)
ÖVP-NEOS: 6% (-2)
SPÖ-FPÖ: 4% (-1)
+/- vs. 6-11 Sep
Fieldwork: 13-18 Sep
— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) September 23, 2019