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Austria's new interior minister to stay tough on migrants

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CHRISTIAN BRUNA/EPA
08:02 CEST+02:00
Austria's new Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka said on Sunday he would stick to the hardline stance on migrants pushed by his predecessor, Johanna Mikl-Leitner.

"This course will be continued, there's no doubt about that," Sobotka told a press conference in Vienna. The 60-year-old, who is a newcomer to national politics, said he did not want "any experiments".

The pair will swap jobs later this month as part of a reshuffle within the conservative ÖVP party announced on Sunday evening.

Mikl-Leitner is set to take over Sobotka's current position as acting regional governor in her home state of Lower Austria.

"In a few days I will leave the republic's toughest job behind me and start the most beautiful role in Austria," Mikl-Leitner said.

The 52-year-old, who took office in 2011, has been one of the key architects behind the country's tough asylum-seeker policies, as Europe grapples with its worst migration crisis since World War II.

She has overseen the introduction of border fences, tougher frontier controls  and hardline asylum rules - including an annual cap on migrant numbers - as part of her push to build "fortress Europe" and shut the main Balkan migrant trail for good.

With that route now closed, Mikl-Leitner recently turned her attention to the Italian border, threatening to clamp down on the strategically important Brenner pass checkpoint if Rome failed to stop illegal migrants.

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