Refugee Crisis

Austrian minister calls for ‘fortress Europe’

Austrian minister calls for 'fortress Europe'
Johanna Mikl-Leitner (centre). Photo: Christian Schulter
Austria’s Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner has called for “a fortress Europe” to protect the EU’s external borders as thousands of refugees continue to enter Austria from Slovenia.

She made the comments after a visit to Spielfeld in Styria, where the situation has become chaotic after the arrival of thousands of refugees and migrants. On Thursday police were forced to remove barricades at a refugee camp in Spielfeld in an effort to relieve pressure, allowing hundreds of people to spill into the surrounding area.

Slovenia says over 12,600 migrants and refugees have entered its territory over the past 24 hours. They want to travel onwards to Austria and Germany.

Locals in Spielfeld, a community of just 1,000 people, have complained that they will not be able to cope with the expected 60,000 refugees who will arrive over the course of the next few days.

On Thursday evening, around 2,000 refugees were waiting in a transit area at the border crossing. Police chief Josef Klamminger said that shuttle buses will be in continual use, to take the refugees to a registration centre and provide them with emergency supplies and first aid.

He told ORF television that the situation in Spielfeld is more extreme than on the Hungarian border crossing a few weeks ago, as “Germany’s restrictions are now affecting Austria and the entire Balkan route, and we are left in a kind of sandwich position.”

Around 900 police officers and soldiers are on duty to try and keep the situation under control.


Meanwhile, Austria's minister for foreign affairs and integration, Sebastian Kurz, told Ö1 radio that the EU must cooperate with Turkey “to stem the flow of refugees, because it is becoming too much”. “Europe is responsible for protecting the EU's external borders,” he added.

He also said he was not against building border fences, which Hungary has done, saying that secure borders are needed and that the secure border between Turkey and Bulgaria has succeeded in easing the flow of refugees.