Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, the world’s youngest leader, has confirmed that Austria is refusing to accept the European Union’s migrant quota while warning that the national border will remain closed to all refugees.
Kurz’s Austrian government has announced it is maintaining its strict policy on migration and will not accept any more asylum seekers, despite orders from the EU to open its borders to refugees.
The announcement follows pressure from 150 NGOs, who are demanding the country opens its borders to Middle Eastern migrants stuck in Greece during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the spokeswoman for Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, confirmed that Austria will remain steadfast in rejecting all asylum applications.
“It remains a no,” Claudia Türtscher said in a statement, according to Austrian reports.
Türtscher was referring to Chancellor Kurz’s earlier warning to Brussels that he would not submit to an EU migrant quota that would transfer refugees and redistribute them across EU member states.
“Millions of people could embark on their journey to Europe if the Turkish-Greek border falls or if they get the impression that they will be able to pass,” Kurz said in March.
Kurz described the move to release millions of refugees into Europe by Turkey’s President Recep Erdoğan as an attack on Europe.
Late last week, Minister for Europe Karoline Edtstadler said that Austria is refusing to repeat the mistakes of the migrant crisis in 2015 and 2016.
During the migrant crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel forced all member states to redistribute migrants based on a quota system.
Austria, under Chancellor Kurz, has vowed to stand against the EU and its migrant quote, and will resist any new attempts at a similar common asylum policy.
“It is clear that the mandatory distribution of asylum seekers in the EU has failed,” Edtstadler said.
Polling shows that a majority of Austrian citizens back Kurz’s stance on migration, with 61 percent saying they reject the EU’s quota approach to migrant distribution.