Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Austrian FM: Our decision to have consequences for Balkans

Austrian Foreign Sebastian Kurz said in Belgrade on Tuesday that his country "will have to limit the number of refugees it will accept this year."
Source: Beta
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He also said that Austria will continue to cooperate with the countries of the Western Balkans "in order to reduce the influx of migrants."
Kurz told a the press conference after his meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic that Austria can receive a maximum of 37,500 people this year - and that this decision "will have consequences also for the countries that are on the West Balkan refugee route."

Reminding that Austria so far received 90,000 refugees, Kurz said it "cannot accept the same number this year" and that the government in Vienna "must set the upper limit of 37,500 people that can be received."

"We have informed the governments in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and in Serbia today, that a change of the situation may arise, but we are ready to assist the countries in the region in reducing the influx of refugees," said Kurz, adding that "this must be a common goal, and is to the benefit of all."

Austria is "ready to provide personnel support to countries in the Western Balkans," said Kurz, and "thanked all the countries that are in the same boat as Austria" - for which, he added, the refugee crisis is "a much bigger challenge because it is both a transit and a destination country."

"Countries must take national measures, but cooperation on a broader level is also necessary. We need to act in coordination with each other and help each other," said he.

Aleksandar Vucic addressed the same news conference to say that Serbia is "ready to help, but to the extent that will not jeopardize its economic future."

He said he "understands the difficulties that Austria faces" and that its plan to limit the number of new refugees this year "could mean that Slovenia and Croatia will at some point close their borders" - but that Serbia "will not be raising walls."

"We will make the best possible decision, guided by European principles and national interests. We will not raise a fence and walls, but we will know how to protect our border," said Vucic.

He "expressed doubt that a comprehensive European solution will be made," adding that "walls are not a solution."

Serbia, said Vucic, "is ready to help in solving the refugee crisis, but there are limits to which it can go, and it cannot exceed the limits which would jeopardize the economic future of the country."

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