Austrian interior minister Wolfgang Sobotka Wednesday called for the closure of the Mediterranean migration route to asylum seekers, when speaking to Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
“Rescue on the open seas cannot be a ticket to Europe, because it gives organized smugglers every argument to continue to persuade people to flee for economic reasons,” he said.
The minister said it was not yet possible to determine how many asylum seekers would attempt the trip to Europe in the coming warmer months. Austria is, however, in close contact with neighboring Italy, and can thus react to any eventualities.
“In case of a sudden influx we would be equipped and able to ramp up our border protection within hours,” he said referring to the potential closure of the Brenner Pass on Austria’s shared border with Italy.
The comments come on the back of Sobotka’s strong support of a closure of the Balkans migration route.
Sobotka argued that only a joint European effort to protect the EU outer borders would be effective.
“Only in this way can the tragic and senseless deaths in the Mediterranean see an end,” he added. Enditem