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New Balkan Route: Austria gets ready to close its border

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Austria – A few weeks after the opening of a new “Balkan route” through Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Croatia, the Austrian minister of the Interior, Herbert Kickl (FPÖ), has announced the organisation of a live exercise of closing the Austrian-Slovenian border at Spielfeld in Styria.

It is not even a month ago that we mentioned the opening of a new “Balkan Route” through Bosnia and this issue begins to impose itself on the political agenda of the countries in the region: Montenegro considers to reinforce its border with Albania in the same way Hungary did, the Croatian police was obliged to open fire on a van that was forcing the Croatian-Bosnian border with illegal migrants on board and the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) of Janez Janša – supported by Viktor Orbán – came out ahead at the Slovenian general elections with an anti-migrants program.

As for current estimations, around 80.000 migrants are currently waiting on the Balkans to try to reach Western Europe.

As for itself, Austria is also active and observes all the more seriously the evolution of the situation in the Balkans as, since the last autumn, the political context has changed in Vienna, where the new ÖVP-FPÖ government lead by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) places itself on a similar line like Viktor Orbán’s Hungary.

The announcement past Friday morning during a press conference expressly convened for the issue, by Chancellor Kurz and Vice-Chancellor Strache, of the closing of seven extremist mosques, of the dissolution of an Arab confessional association and of the expulsion of around sixty imams who did not conform to the Austrian Islam law (Islamgesetz) is an obvious evidence of it.

As soon as the opening of the new “Balkan Route” was known, the Austrian minister of the Interior, Herbert Kickl (FPÖ), said that Austria would not hesitate to close hermetically its border with Slovenia, if it should become necessary. In other terms, it is for the current Austrian government absolutely out of question that the Austrian borders would become again the real sieve for migrants that they were back in 2015.

In constant contact with his colleagues of the Balkan States, the minister of the Interior, Herbert Kickl, has then decided to prepare his troops and ordered consequently a live exercise of closing hermetically the Austrian-Slovenian border to be held on 25 June at Spielfeld in Styria, in the South of the country. That exercise will mobilise around thousand policemen and soldiers, among which the newly founded unit of border guards “Puma”, which will simulate the assault of the border crossings by migrants as this occurred in 2015 in Röszke at the border between Hungary and Serbia.

I want to be prepared in the case of emergency while hoping that it will not occur,” said Mr. Kickl who invited his colleagues from the Balkan States to assist at this exercise of active defence of the border.