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Italy summons Austrian ambassador over threat of border controls

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Italy summons Austrian ambassador over threat of border controls
'No Border' activists demonstrate at the Brenner border in 2016. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP
14:01 CEST+02:00
Italy's foreign ministry summoned the Austrian ambassador on Tuesday after Vienna said it was considering introducing border controls to block migrants from passing between the two countries.

The ministry said the move followed "the declarations of the Austrian government concerning the deployment of troops to the Brenner Pass" on the border.

Vienna's defence minister was quoted on Monday saying his country would "very soon" impose border checks and deploy soldiers on its frontier with Italy if the influx of migrants across the Mediterranean does not slow.

"I expect that very soon border controls will be activated and that an assistance deployment (by the military) will be requested," Hans Peter Doskozil told the online edition of the Krone daily.

He was cited as saying that this move was "indispensable if the inflow into Italy does not ease". The newspaper said that 750 soldiers were available and that four armoured vehicles had already been sent to the area over the weekend.

Austria introduced checks on its eastern border with Hungary in 2015 and has readied physical measures such as barriers on its Italian border to the south-west, including at the famous Brenner Pass.

More than 85,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in Italy by sea this year, the UN refugee agency has said. More than 2,000 others have died or gone missing on the perilous crossing.

The comments from the centre-left Doskozil come ahead of early elections in Austria in October when the anti-immigration far-right is forecast to do well and potentially emerge as the biggest party.

READ ALSO: UN warns that Italy cannot handle migrant crisis alone

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