Germany and Austria in border spat as migrant refusals increase

Germany needs to be honest about the fact that its doors are no longer unconditionally open to refugees, a top Austrian politican said Tuesday as her country copes with a growing number of migrants stymied in their attempts to enter Germany.

"What is needed here is a renunciation of the limitless Willkommenskultur," Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leiter was quoted as saying by Austria's Krone newspaper.

The comment was a reference to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision last year to suspend the vetting of Syrian migrants, thereby allowing 1.1 million people to enter Germany in 2015.

Germany has since reimposed a degree of vetting, rejecting migrants who plan to seek asylum elsewhere and sending those back that have already registered in another European Union member state.

But the news hasn't reached the many thousands of people working their way through Central Europe, meaning some will make it to Austria only to find they can proceed no further.

German police confirmed on Monday that border authorities are denying entry to about 200 migrants a day and sending them back to Austria. This marks a change from last year, when a much smaller number was being sent back each day.

Mikl-Leiter urged a meeting between Merkel and her Austrian counterpart, Werner Faymann, to discuss the increasingly uncoordinated response to the influx, Krone reported.

A series of sexual assaults and thefts in German cities that police have linked to asylum seekers have inflamed a debate in Germany and Austria about reducing the migrant influx and imposing caps on the numbers of people allowed to enter each year.

In an interview published Monday, Haymann told Krone newspaper that his government planned to reduce the numbers of migrants entering Austria by rejecting economic migrants at the border.

"We need our places for refugees fleeing war," he said. "This will not come about as a result of agitation, but through concrete measures at our borders."

On Wednesday, the German Bundestag is set to debate a judicial and legislative crackdown on sexual assault committed by asylum seekers.

Last update: Tue, 12/01/2016 - 14:55
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