Austria deploys army to halt migrants intending to transit through Germany
The new regulations issued by the Austrian Defense Ministry came into effect Saturday.
Now migrants coming to Austria to travel through Germany and beyond will be denied access and sent back home, Austrian authorities said on Friday. Slovenia is expected to resort to similar measures in order to avoid becoming a refugee bottleneck.
“What is the situation currently on the German-Austrian border? That only those who want asylum in Germany are being let through, and those who want to travel onward are sent back,” Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told state broadcaster ORF, as quoted by Reuters.
“We will stop them directly on our southern border [with Slovenia] as of the end of next week,” Mikl-Leitner added.
The soldiers’ presence will be made “clearly visible” to deter migrants trying to find illegal ways into Austria.
Over 3,000 migrants who arrived under false identities have been sent back, border officials reported.
Slovenia will also have to take a similar decision or cope with the rejected migrants, a Slovenian Interior Ministry official said.
Austria has been engaged in trilateral talks with Germany and Slovenia aimed at finding new ways to manage the refugee and migrant influx.
The negotiations went well and have so far resulted in tightened border control checks to stop illegal immigration, according to Mikl-Leitner.
“The states have agreed that a joint solution has to be reached,” Slovenian State Secretary Bostjan Sefic said, adding that Slovenia will deal with the problem on its own if the countries fail to come up with a coordinated response.
The whole process was started by Germany, which since the beginning of January has been turning away hundreds of migrants with fake IDs heading to Sweden or Denmark. Those people then turned up in neighboring Austria and Slovenia.
Austria and Slovenia have been a way station for hundreds of thousands migrants heading to Germany since September. Only 90,000 migrants have applied for asylum in Austria compared to 1.1 million taken in by Germany. The government in Berlin is reconsidering its open-door policy to welcome refugees after a whole series of sexual assaults on women by male asylum-seekers.
Meanwhile, in Germany Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has also demanded the legal option of deploying Bundeswehr troops in light of the recent attacks on women in Cologne.
"We will have to deal with the question of why, under clear regulations in support of the police, virtually all countries in Europe can turn to their armed forces" except for Germany, he said.
"We must create the legal basis," Schäuble told Süddeutsche Zeitung. He stressed that Germans “expect the state to ensure security."
"For this you need more police and enhanced legal foundations for the police and intelligence services," Schäuble said."However, the situation may arise where [the resources of] both federal and state police forces are exhausted."