Austria mulls migrant reception centres outside EU

AFP , Wednesday 13 Jun 2018

File photo: The Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz briefs the media after a meeting with German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer at the German interior ministry in Berlin, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (AP photo)

Austria is discussing with other EU states the possibility of setting up reception centres for migrants outside the EU, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said.

"There are efforts underway to create sanctuaries outside Europe, where we can accommodate refugees and offer protection, but not a better life in central Europe," Kurz told the public ORF TV station late Tuesday when asked about the plans.

He added that Austria was working on the idea with a group of other states, but did not mention them by name.

However, last week his Danish counterpart Lars Lokke Rasmussen said he had been in talks with several countries -- including Austria -- over the creation of "common centres" for migrants who could not claim asylum in the EU or whose applications had been dismissed.

When Kurz was asked whether such centres could be set up in Albania, as suggested in the Austrian press, he replied simply: "We'll see".

Kurz, from the centre-right People's Party (OeVP), has been in a coalition government with the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe) since late 2017.

Both parties have made restrictive immigration policies a top priority, with the government saying it wants to make Austria less attractive to asylum seekers and increase deportations of those whose applications had been rejected.

EU states are currently deadlocked over reform to the bloc's asylum policy, with the arrival of Italy's new populist, anti-immigration government making any agreement in the short term even less likely.

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