Austria is ready to take measures to protect its southern borders if the immigration deal of the German coalition government comes into force, the Austrian government said, Reuters reports.
Thus, the Cabinet of Ministers of Austria reacted to the agreement between Angela Merkel and the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the country, as well as the leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) Horst Seehofer.
“If this agreement becomes the position of the German government, it will force us to take measures to prevent negative consequences for Austria and its population,” said Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurtz in a joint statement with two extreme right-wing cabinet members, asking Berlin to clarify its position.
Under this deal, migrants who have already applied for asylum in other countries of the European Union will be in transit centers on the German border, and Berlin will negotiate bilateral agreements on return.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer insisted on tougher measures on illegal immigration and presented the deal as a victory. However, it is not clear what impact this will have, since in many cases bilateral agreements on the return of migrants already exist and are being implemented.
Austria, which borders Bavaria, has repeatedly stated that it will at least comply with any German measures on its borders on lower migrant routes, such as those that it shares with Italy and Slovenia. More stringent border controls in Germany in the past have raised concerns about increasing migrant populations in Austria.
Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurtz Micky Kroell / OSCE
A statement by Kurtz, Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Streche and Interior Minister Herbert Kikl says that the Austrian government is “prepared, in particular, to take measures to protect our southern borders”, although no clarification is provided.
Kurz’s conservatives won parliamentary elections last year with a tough line on immigration, committing themselves to preventing any recurrence of the 2015–2016 migration crisis, during which Austria accepted more than 1% of its refugee population and more than a million refugees crossed it territory to Germany.
Migrants transferred almost 18 billion euros from Germany
The total amount of money transfers from Germany over 10 years increased by 6.5 billion euros. Germany is among the countries with the largest number of transfers. The amount of remittances that migrants send to their relatives in other countries has increased significantly. In 2016, about 17.7 billion euros were transferred from Germany to the countries of origin of migrants, which is 6.5 billion more than in 2007. According to Die Welt, Germany is among the countries where most transfers are made. Only Germany, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland are on the list above Germany.
The German government assesses a large number of remittances as “stimulating development,” since the money ends up in people in developing countries. By 2030, it is sometimes planned to reduce very high translation costs to less than three percent.
The representative of the Alternative for Germany (AdG) party, Markus Frohnmaier, suspected that recipients of social benefits in Germany also sent part of their money to relatives in their countries of origin. Fronmayer emphasized that development in other countries cannot be carried out at the expense of the German social system. AdG demanded that migrants be prohibited from transferring money from their allowances to other countries. At the same time, the Soyuz-90 / Green party believes that remittances also contribute to the fight against the causes of mass migration. “Refugees provide life prospects for people in their countries, thereby keeping them from a dangerous migrant route to Europe,” said Uwe Kekeritz, a spokesman for the Greens.