Austria has established a border patrol exercise planned for Tuesday with the asylum dispute in Germany. Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the right-wing populist FPÖ told the “Bild” newspaper: “On Tuesday there will be a large-scale exercise of police and army in Spielfeld, at which also the new police border protection unit Puma will be presented.”
The exercise on the border with Slovenia is meant as a clear signal that there will be no loss of control and beckoning as at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015. “Backgrounds are the debate on inner-European border closures, triggered by Germany, as well as current developments on the refugee routes in the Balkans,” quotes the newspaper Strache. They want to “arm themselves for all developments”.
The CSU wants to reach a European agreement by 1 July on how to stop the migration of refugees within the EU. Otherwise, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) wants to have refugees registered in other countries rejected at the German border. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), however, warns against a national solo effort and struggling under time pressure for a European solution.
Austria takes over the rotating EU Council Presidency on 1 July. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his allies from the FPÖ pursue a tough course in refugee policy. For example, the government is pushing for military use at the EU’s external borders.
On Tuesday evening, the leaders of the CDU, CSU and SPD will meet at the Chancellery for a coalition committee meeting. In the run-up, the former SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel warned urgently against a coalition break. In addition, the CDU interior expert Armin Schuster brought another reform proposal on migration policy: He recommended in an interview with the “Rheinische Post” to allow repatriations of illegal inmates also 30 kilometers behind the border.
Among other things, Schuster’s 5-point concept envisages stationary monitoring at a few German border crossings, but mainly searching for illegal entrants in a corridor 30 kilometers wide – and then returning them to a jurisdiction where they first belonged to in the EU. Until the competent country is determined, people could be placed in anchor centres, as Seehofer had suggested, the former border police officer told the newspaper. In this way, the Federal Police could not only deal with Austria in the border area, but also on the border with Switzerland and France.