Hans Peter Doskozil said it was irresponsible for Merkel to say “we’ll cope” in response to the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugee in Germany last year.
The Defence Minister – who was the head of Burgenland police when the region became an epicentre of the refugee crisis last year – told the Krone Zeitung he thinks that statement acted as a pull factor for refugees to come to Europe.
He was speaking almost a year to the day that 71 refugees were found dead in the back of a truck in Austria, triggering a wave of solidarity across Europe.
Days later, Germany – the favoured destination of many refugees and migrants – announced it would suspend the Dublin regulation for Syrian refugees, meaning they would not be returned to the first EU country they entered.
The announcement led to hundreds of thousands attempting to make their way to Germany through the west Balkans and Austria.
The Austrian Social Democrat (SPÖ) politician also called for Europe to convene a special summit on deportation to build an alliance of countries affected by the crisis and negotiate how to return people to their native countries.
“It is not a policy if Europe remains in agony and sticks its head in the sand,” he said. He added that he thinks Europe has failed to learn from mistakes made last year when dealing with the arrival of millions of refugees and migrants.
Austria has struggled in recent months to come to an agreement with Hungary over returning asylum seekers to the country.
In July Hungary agreed take back migrants from Kosovo and Albania and return them to their countries but refused to accept asylum seekers who had first arrived to Europe via Greece, arguing they are not Hungary’s responsibility.