Austrian FM Calls for Refugee Centers outside EU

Sebastian Kurz, Foreign Minister of Austria, has proposed creating refugee centers outside the borders of the European Union (EU), for example in Georgia or in the Western Balkans.

The proposal came during his interview with German newspaper.

“We need refugee centers outside the EU, which are operated together with the UNHCR.... It is not that important where exactly they will be. The important thing is that these countries will ensure protection, and that people who illegally try to get into Europe be send back there. The facilities could be placed in countries such as Egypt, Georgia, or somewhere in the Western Balkans,” Kurz stated.

Kurz added that the Mediterranean route should be closed for illegal immigrants. “It is easier to stop and take someone back to the EU's external border than when they have already moved into a flat in Vienna or Berlin,” the Austrian minister noted.

The statements of Kurz were followed by comments in Russia. The Russian government believes that the idea of the migrants in Georgia, taking into account the threat of international terrorism, contradicts Russia's national interests.

First Deputy Chairman of Russia's Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security Franz Klintsevich told Ria Novosti that EU member states want to rid themselves of the migration crisis burden and transfer it to others. “The proposal of Sebastian Kurz is directly related to the national security of Russia, which has a common border with Georgia,” Klintsevich stated in his interview. The Russian official also said that “everyone should remember the time when terrorists were being readied in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge.”

Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) also commented on the opinion of the Austrian Foreign Minister today. “European Union migrant redistribution has not been raised with the Georgian side at any level meetings,” the statement of the MFA reads. The Ministry stated that the issue was not mentioned during Sebastian Kurz's official visit to Georgia on February 3.

“This issue is not on the agenda in Georgia, as its implementation is impossible due to our present challenges,” the MFA said.


By Thea Morrison

06 March 2017 12:19