• Austria's news in English

Austria 'extremely critical' of EU-Turkey migrant deal

The Local/AFP · 10 Mar 2016, 09:23

Published: 10 Mar 2016 09:23 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"I am extremely critical," Johanna Mikl-Leitner told ORF public radio from Brussels ahead of a two-day meeting of EU interior ministers to chew over the proposed agreement.

"I am seriously wondering whether we are taking ourselves and our values seriously or if we are throwing them overboard," she said.

The mooted deal between Ankara and Brussels, discussed at an EU summit on Monday and due to be finalised on March 17th-18th, would see Turkey take back all illegal migrants landing in Greece.

Ankara proposed an arrangement under which the EU would resettle one Syrian refugee from camps in Turkey in exchange for every Syrian that Turkey takes from Greece, in a bid to reduce the incentive for people to board boats for Europe.

In return though, Turkey wants billions of euros in aid, visa-free access to Europe's passport-free Schengen zone and a speeding up of Ankara's efforts to join the EU - demands that go too far for some.

In addition, questions have been raised over the legality of the plans as well as the desirability of doing a deal with a country that critics say has had a shaky human rights record, not least regarding the media and its Kurdish minority.

Mikl-Leitner noted that only a few days before Monday's summit, Turkish police raided the offices of daily newspaper Zaman to impose a court order placing it under administration, dispersing protesters with tear gas and water cannon.

"I think it's questionable if Turkey takes control of a newspaper critical of the government and then turns up here (in Brussels) three days later and puts a wish list on the table," she said.

Story continues below…

"And then Turkey is rewarded with discussions about bringing forward visa liberalisation," she said, suggesting that any deal with Ankara should include a "termination clause".

Turkey deal follows closure of Balkan route led by Austria

The deal with Turkey was struck in part because of the huge numbers of refugees now left trapped in Greece.

The situation became critical after Austria's introduction of a refugee cap of 37,500 for this year set off a chain of border controls throughout the Balkans.

With Austria's desire to close the Balkan route for migrant and refugees now fulfilled, Mikl-Leitner said in a separate interview with Germany newspaper Die Welt that the "clock will not be turned back".

She said: "My position is clear — the Balkan route will remain closed, and permanently."

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

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
Radioactive uranium rocks on display in Austrian schools
Uraninite crystals. Photo: Rob Lavinsky, iRocks.com/Wikimedia

Education officials have carried out urgent checks in schools across the country after one of the stones on display in a classroom turned out to be radioactive.

Austrian churches slam far-right's 'God' slogan
Campaign poster for Norbert Hofer. Photo: Paul Gillingwater

Austrian church officials have denounced far-right presidential candidate Norbert Hofer for "instrumentalising" God in a new slogan.

'Scary clown' pushes 14-year-old off his bike in Salzburg
Generic photo: Graeme Maclean/Flick

A 14-year-old boy in Salzburg has been injured after being pushed off his bike by an individual dressed as a scary clown.

Police puzzled by random stabbing of teenager in Vienna
Photo: Paul Gillingwater

A 15-year-old boy who was stabbed near his home in the Vienna district of Liesing on Friday morning by a complete stranger has spoken to the police.

'Sensational' 300-year-old Madonna found in Burgenland
The head of the statue was found beside the body. Photo: ORF

A 300-year-old statue of the Virgin Mary has been found hidden in a chapel next to a Catholic church in Loretto, Burgenland.

Baumgartner 'failed to mention Red Bull' before jumping to Earth
Felix Baumgartner. Photo: Red Bull Stratos

Felix Baumgartner has been accused of cheating his Red Bull sponsors after he failed to mention the energy drink just before he jumped to Earth.

Verdict on swimming pool rape case overturned
The Theresienbad swimming pool in Vienna. Photo: Wikimedia

An Iraqi refugee who was jailed after claiming it was a sexual emergency when he raped a boy in a swimming pool has had the sentence overturned.

Vienna Comic Con promises to be 'bigger and more galactic'
Cosplay star Yaya Han. Copyright: Yaya Han/Bryan Humphrey

Comic Con returns to the Austrian capital on November 19th-20th at the Messe Wien.

Three refugees arrested on drugs charges
Cannabis plants. Photo: J. Patrick Bedell/Wikimedia

A gang of three Afghani drug dealers has been busted in Vienna.

Hungarian woman crushed by snowcat piste machine
Snowcat machine. Photo: Melensdad/Wikimedia

A young Hungarian woman has died after being crushed by a snowcat piste machine on the Dobratsch mountain in Carinthia.

12 brilliant German words you won't find in English
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Five films which will change your mind about Austrian cinema
Those surprising Austrians!
100 years since the last emperor's death
Afghani family's new home in Austria
Der you learn Deutsch?
Delighted by the light
Beware these passport scams
Of course we skipped Oarsch
Foodies rejoice at the choice!
Travel & Tourism
10 years after her escape from captivity
Surviving the Brexit for British expats
Day 2 of the World Bodypainting Festival 2016
Is Islam hostile to Western society?
Bodypainting festival in southern Austria
Europe's ice cream capital
Best Austrian beauty spots
Travel & Tourism
Three days in Vienna as a tourist
How to make friends in Austria
jobs available