• Austria's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Refugee Crisis
Austria to build Slovenia border fence
Johanna Mikl-Leitner (centre). Photo: Christian Schulter

Austria to build Slovenia border fence

The Local/AFP · 28 Oct 2015, 08:59

Published: 28 Oct 2015 08:59 GMT+01:00

Both countries are part of the passport-free Schengen zone and have been key transit countries for tens of thousands of refugees and migrants desperately seeking to reach northern Europe via the Balkans.

"This is about ensuring an orderly, controlled entry into our country, not about shutting down the border," she told public broadcaster Ö1.

Mikl-Leitner, a member of the conservative ÖVP party, added that the situation risked escalating as people were forced to wait in freezing temperatures for hours before being allowed to cross from one nation into another.

"We know that in recent days and weeks individual groups of migrants have become more impatient, aggressive and emotional. If groups of people push from behind, with children and women stuck in-between, you need stable, massive measures," she said.

Austria 'out of line'

However, Germany said on Wednesday that Europe's refugee crisis cannot be solved with the construction of border fences or walls.

"We do not believe that the current migrant crisis that Europe is facing can be resolved with the building of fences or walls," said government spokesman Steffen Seibert, adding that the problem could only be dealt with if Europe stood united.

Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has hit out at Austria for sending asylum seekers to its border without any warning, saying the neighbouring country's behaviour was "out of line".

"The behaviour of Austria in recent days was out of line. We have to complain that refugees were driven without any warning after dark to... the German border," he said.

De Maiziere said both sides have discussed the problem, and that "Austria yesterday pledged to return to an orderly process." "I expect that to happen immediately. We are in constant contact on that aspect," he added.

'Fortress Europe'

Previously, Austrian ministers had avoided using the word 'fence' - talking instead about the need for "special structural measures" on the border. Last week, Mikl-Leitner drew strong criticism from opposition members for saying that it was time for the EU to "build fortress Europe".

Story continues below…

But Defence Minister Gerald Klug, of the Social Democrats, told Ö1 radio that he supports the idea of a fence, which is necessary "in order to properly control the refugees" but that "we must not lose sight of humanity". He added that Hungary's razor-sharp barbed wire fences were not the solution.

The Secretary-General of Amnesty Austria, Heinz Patzelt, told Ö1 that fences are "a symbol of a lack of solidarity" - and that barriers would not deter refugees from trying to enter Austria.

Mikl-Leitner said in a statement sent to the media that the fence would be "solid and stretch several kilometres left and right of the border crossing", but did not give a date for when construction would begin.

She also said that 200 police officers would be trained to become special border police, and that Austria needs an additional 2,000 officers as the force is stretched to its limits.

For more news from Austria, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local/AFP (news.austria@thelocal.com)

Today's headlines
Inmate ran €30K fraud scheme from Austrian prison cell
H.Moschitz - S.Partl/Wikimedia

An inmate managed to commit fraud while under the watch of wardens in an Austrian prison by posing online as a doctor who needed money for aid work in Syria.

Concert killer was neo-Nazi 'Blood and Honour' member
Photo: ORF screengrab

Police confirm identity of Vorarlberg shooter, who was a member of the neo-Nazi group "Blood and Honour".

Cute baby flamingos a hit at Vienna Zoo
Photo: Tiergarten Schönbrunn/CEN

Pretty flamingos are attracting visitors to the world's oldest zoo in the Austrian capital Vienna after six chicks were hatched this year.

All you need to know about Austria's new president
Facebook/VanderBellen/Niko Ostermann

Fans affectionately call him "the professor", while his critics decry him as a haughty "green dictator".

Left-winger van der Bellen wins Austrian presidential election
vanderbellen.at

Austria has chosen the former Green leader Alexander van der Bellen to be the country's next president, in what was one of the tightest presidential election races seen in Austria.

EU waits with bated breath as Austria counts the votes
Photo: composite from Norbert Hofer's official Facebook

Austria and the European Union were on tenterhooks Monday as they waited to see whether Norbert Hofer had won an election runoff to become the bloc's first president from the anti-immigrant far-right.

'Guilty' penguin thieves return statue to Vienna cafe
The adult penguin has been alone for two years. Photo: w24 screengrab.

A penguin stolen from a cafe in Vienna two years ago has mysteriously found its way back to the garden.

Austrian gunman may have been right-wing extremist
Photo: ORF screengrab

The gunman who killed two people when he open fired into a crowd at a concert in Vorarlberg on Sunday before turning the gun on himself may have been a right-wing extremist, according to media reports.

Austrian election too close to call
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

In a surprise result, it appears that the Austrian presidential runoff on Sunday is effectively a dead heat, with more than 90% of the vote tallied--until postal votes are counted by Monday.

Three die in gun rampage in western Austria
ORF screengrab

Three people have died after a gunman open fired on a crowd at a concert in western Austria and then turned the gun on himself.

Politics
Profile on Norbert Hofer, Freedom Party Presidential Candidate
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Politics
Austrian politics explained. TL;DR: worry not.
Features
Refugees need practical help
Lifestyle
All you need to know about Austrian Faschingskrapfen
Lifestyle
Why looking good on the ski slopes has never been easier
Lifestyle
Live in Austria? You might develop some of these weird habits
National
How 'Silent Night' rules the carol world
Lifestyle
How a chance meeting on the slopes led to a new business
Lifestyle
What it means to be human
Technology
How a town became a green icon
Lifestyle
Why Austria has the world's best ski resort
Lifestyle
Let them eat cake!
Lifestyle
Top tips for partying like an Austrian
Culture
Five places to learn how to cook Viennese cuisine
Lifestyle
How living in Austria will improve your lifestyle
Lifestyle
Backstage at the World Beard and Moustache Championship
Gallery
Up to 60,000 people welcomed refugees in Vienna
Culture
Can you spot an Austrian?
Lifestyle
Our pick of Vienna's best vegetarian restaurants
Analysis & Opinion
Italy's South Tyrol: where an identity crisis lingers
National
Lost on the way to sanctuary
2,393
jobs available