Daily Management Review

Austria gathers troops to shelter itself against refugees


Enraged authorities of Italy called upon the Austrian ambassador, after the government in Vienna announced its readiness to reintroduce border control and deploy troops and armored vehicles along the border. All these forces are summoned in order to block the influx of refugees from Italy.

Mstyslav Chernov
Mstyslav Chernov
Austrian Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil said that troops could be sent to Brenner and that four Pandur armored vehicles were sent to the Tyrol region, which already hosts 750 soldiers.

"We need to prepare for the development of migration in Italy, and I expect that the border control will need to be activated soon, and assistance will be requested," he said. In his opinion, deployment of troops on the pass in the Alps will be an "indispensable" step if the influx of refugees into Italy across the Mediterranean does not decrease.

Although Austria retains border checks with Hungary and Slovenia, it adheres to the EU's open border system in other places, including on the border with Italy.

The country’s Ministry of Defense stressed that they are not sending battle tanks to the border, but are using armored vehicles to block roads. However, Rome hardly thinks that Austria intends to invade Italy. Most likely, the indignation was caused by the fact that now all these refugees will have to stay in the country, and not move further to Europe.

The border control will be used at the Brenner Pass, which forms the border between Austria and Italy, on one of the main mountain passes in the Eastern Alps. There is no strict timetable for improving border security, but, according to Doskozil, "we see how the situation in Italy is becoming more acute, and we must be prepared to avoid a situation comparable to the summer of 2015."

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said that Vienna is ready to "protect" the border with Italy "if necessary." Later, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it had summoned the Austrian ambassador "after Austrian government announced deployment of troops in Brenner."

Thus, the refugee crisis in Europe is once again exacerbated, just two years after Germany let more than a million Syrian migrants in, as well as a few days after the Italian Minister of the Interior demanded that other EU countries join the problem and help Italy with a sudden flow of arriving migrants.

Austria has previously made similar maneuvers, so the reaction of Italian officials could be explained by the fact that they do not understand how to cope with this flow of migrants.

According to the UN, about 85,000 migrants and refugees arrived in Italy in the first half of the year, which is approximately 20% more than in the first half of the year. Mostly they are fleeing from Libya. The shortest transition from Libya to Italy is only about 460 km. With such a flow, Italy simply cannot accommodate all these people and provide security for them and the local people. According to UN statistics, most migrants will not be able to take refuge in Europe at all.

Only 30% of refugees are hiding from military conflicts or persecution, but 70% are economic migrants. Most of them are young single men with minimal education or even without it. Another 15% are unaccompanied minors.

Meanwhile, Italy also warned that the current scale of migration is beyond its capabilities, so the ports can be closed in the near future. In other words, another refugee crisis in Europe is inevitable.

In 2015, the Schengen system of the EU, providing movement for most European countries without borders, was overflowed with an influx of migrants and refugees who traveled to Central Europe through the Balkans and were most active in seeking asylum in Germany. Since then, more stringent border measures in the Balkans have reduced the number of migrants heading north from Greece.

Previously, most of the influx into Austria passed through Hungary, many were traveling by train or walking, and these were refugees from Syria, Iraq and other conflict zones. To date, 101 thousand migrants entered Europe through the Mediterranean in 2017, and, according to the latest data, 2,247 people were killed or missing.

source: reuters.com