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April 18, 2023

Austrian MIA Defends Border Controls, Says They’re a Decisive Factor

After announcing the extension of internal border controls at the borders with Hungary and Slovenia, the Austrian Minister of Interior, Gerhard Karner, has defended them, insisting that such controls are a decisive factor in combating human smuggling inside the European Union.

In a meeting held on April 13, with the Director General for Public Safety, Franz Ruf, and the Head of Department at the Federal Criminal Police Office, Dieter Csefan, the Minister has presented the measures Austria is currently taking to fight people smuggling.

He has also revealed that around 700 smugglers have been arrested since May 2022, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

Resolute action against illegal migration and the smuggling mafia requires a bundle of measures. Border controls, controls in areas close to the border, but above all international cooperation are decisive factors. This also includes the deployment of more than 130 police officers in Hungary, Serbia, and North Macedonia for border security,” the Minister during the meeting.

On Wednesday, SchengenVisaInfo.com reported that Austria would be prolonging internal border controls with Hungary and Slovenia for six more months, until November 2023.

Revealing the decision, Minister Karner had argued that in spite of the costs that arise from internal border controls, Austria has to keep them in place for security reasons.

Yes, it costs, but it is necessary for the safety of the Austrian population,” he said.

In the meeting held later on Thursday with Head Csefan and Director Ruf, Minister Karner has pointed out the three main tools that Austria is using in order to fight illegal migration, with the first being the cross-border fight as a key focus of police work. He also noted that the police have arrested 700 people smugglers since May last year.

The second tool, according to the Minister, is the strengthening of border controls at the borders with neighboring countries, where currently 130 Austrian officers support the local police authorities at borders with Serbia, Hungary, North Macedonia, and Greece.

And lastly, the Minister believes that it is essential to speed up asylum procedures in cases when there is no chance of asylum, with around 25,000 such procedures having been carried out last year.

We will therefore continue to step on the asylum brake with all consistency in the future in order to prevent abuse,” the Minister said.

Austria had first introduced border controls in September 2015 with Hungary and Slovenia, in a bid to prevent the massive migrant movements at the time. Since then, border controls have been extended every six months.

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