Author: Cynthia Kroet
Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka has called for the immediate closure of the Mediterranean route used by refugees seeking asylum in Western European countries, local media reported Wednesday.
Closing the route “is the only way to end the tragic and senseless dying in the Mediterranean,” Sobotka said.
Asked about the potential of a barrier being erected at the Brenner Pass on the border between Italy and Austria, Sobotka said: “In the event of a sudden influx, we are equipped and able to ramp up border management within hours.”
According to U.N. aid agencies, nearly 9,000 migrants were rescued in the Mediterranean over the Easter weekend. As weather conditions improve, more migrants are expected to make their way to Europe.
“A rescue in the open sea cannot be a ticket to Europe, because it gives organized crime every argument to persuade people to escape for economic reasons,” Sobotka said.
Last summer, Austria advocated for the closure of the Western Balkan route used by migrants coming from the Middle East seeking their way to Western European countries.
Austrian Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil last February said Vienna planned to increase cooperation with 15 countries along the Balkan route to keep migrants from reaching northern Europe, claiming the EU is not adequately protecting its external borders.