Austria to build border fence with Slovenia amid refugee crisis
"This is about ensuring an orderly, controlled entry into our country, not about shutting down the border," Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said on Wednesday, Austria’s branch of The Local reported.
According to the minister, Vienna needs “stable, massive measures” in place for handling the refugee crisis. She, however, didn’t give information on when exactly the construction would start.
"We know that in recent days and weeks individual groups of migrants have become more impatient, aggressive and emotional. If groups of people push from behind, with children and women stuck in-between, you need stable, massive measures.”
Mikl-Leitner added that he fence would be "solid and stretch several kilometers left and right of the border crossing". Also about 200 officers will be specially trained to work as border police.
The idea of the fence has been supported by Austrian Defense Minister Gerald Klug, who said that the measure is being taken "in order to properly control the refugees."
But "we must not lose sight of humanity," he said, adding that Hungary’s barbed fence is not the solution to refugee issue.
In the meantime, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere slammed Vienna’s handling of the refugee crisis.
"The behavior of Austria in recent days was not right," de Maiziere told a news conference in Berlin, "We observed that refugees, without warning and after dark, were being driven to the German border without any provisions or forethought. There were intensive contacts."
In September Austrian authorities sent about 2,200 soldiers to assist in introducing tougher border checks amid the growing refugee crisis.
Austria has recently been struck by a huge influx of asylum seekers coming from Slovenia.
So far the only EU country which actually sealed its borders from refugees is Hungary. Hungary, a Schengen member, closed its borders with non-EU member Serbia in mid-September and with non-Schengen Croatia last week. It also decided to introduce controls on its border with Slovenia, which is a Schengen zone member.
Europe is facing its greatest refugee crisis since the end of World War II. According to UN data, 591,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Europe this year, 450,000 of them in Greece. EU leaders have agreed on a plan to distribute 160,000 of those refugees between the union’s members. However, the move is opposed by several eastern EU-members, including Hungary.