Austria: Kurz in chilling demand for ‘Rome-Berlin-Vienna axis’ to fight immigration | World | News


Adopting a name that is a chilling reminder of the 1940s Axis of Powers – the military alliance between Nazi Germany, Japan and Italy – the Eurosceptic leader said countries should “act on time” to avoid another refugee crisis similar to the one that hit Europe in 2015.

Mr Kurz landed in Berlin on Monday for talks on the European Union’s migration policy with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other members of her government.

Speaking at a press conference in Berlin after his meeting with German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, Mr Kurz said: “In our view, we need an ‘axis of the willing’ in the fight against illegal migration.

“I am happy about the good cooperation that we want to develop between Rome, Vienna and Berlin. 

“I think it marks very sensible cooperation that will contribute to reducing illegal migration to Europe.

“We shouldn’t wait until we have a catastrophe, like in 2015.

“Instead it is important to act on time.”

Mr Kurz is especially worried about the “Albania route”, which he said is one of the new favourite paths taken by migrants to enter the EU and Vienna. 

Despite the number of migrants effectively reaching the EU through Albania is low, it has been surging in the last months.

Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama said in a press conference in Vienna at the end of May that his country counted 2,311 arrivals that month, up from 162 in January.

Mr Kurz also said fighting illegal immigration would be a priority for Vienna’s presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2018.

The Austrian Chancellor could find an ally in Mr Seehofer, who is famously hostile to the open-border policy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and would be in favour of tightening up Europe’s borders. 

The minister, who is expected to soon present a “migration master plan” to the German parliament, said: “From my point of view, it would be ideal to secure the external borders of the European Union. 

“I promised Chancellor Kurz that on the question of strengthening the external borders he has my full support as interior minister.”

And Italy may be ready to join this new “axis” as well.

Mr Seehofer, who received a phone call from his Italian counterpart Matteo Salvini, said the new government in Rome is interested in building a partnership focused on security, counterterrorism and migration. 

Mr Seehofer deserted Mrs Merkel’s “integration summit” yesterday to meet Mr Kurz.

Mr Seehofer rejected claims he had snubbed Germany’s leader.

But he revealed the real reason he didn’t want to attend was the presence of Ferda Ataman, a journalist who has compared his policies on migration to the Nazis.

He said: “I cannot be part of an integration summit where there is one participant who in an article compared my strategy on homeland to the homeland understanding of the Nazis.” 

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