VIENNA- On Tuesday, July 3, 2018- The government in Vienna said, “Austria is prepared to take measures to protect its southern borders if an immigration deal within Germany’s coalition goes into effect”. With the response to an agreement, on Monday between German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and Bavaria’s Christian Social Union settling a row over a migrant policy that had threatened to topple her government.
Austrian Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz said in a joint statement, “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 statement prepared by Kurz, Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache and Interior Minister Herbert Kickl said that the Austrian government is “prepared in particular to take measures for the protection of our southern borders”. It did not elaborate. Austria’s southernmost borders are with Slovenia and Italy.
Austria has said that in the event of an influx from Italy it will introduce controls at the Brenner crossing, which lies on an important north-south road and rail route. The number of arrivals has since slowed to a trickle despite many people still making the dangerous Mediterranean crossing into Italy.
Tighter German border controls have in the past raised fears of a migrant build-up in Austria. “Austria and in particular Salzburg can and must in no case become a ‘waiting area’ for migrants,” said Wilfried Haslauer, the conservative governor of Salzburg province, which borders Germany.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, of the Bavarian party, has been pushing for tougher measures on illegal immigration and presented the deal as a victory. It is unclear, however, what effect it will have as in many cases bilateral accords for migrants’ return already exist and are implemented.