Kurz: Countries must act till EU defines joint response

Countries must take their own measures until the European Union finds a common response to the migrant crisis, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said in Vienna on Wednesday, ahead of a ministerial conference on the migrant crisis which brought together interior and foreign ministers from ten countries along the Balkan route, including Croatia.

The event was also attended by Croatian Interior Minister Vlaho Orepic and Assistant Foreign Minister Zeljko Kupresak.

Until a joint European response to the migrant crisis is found, we must take national measures so as to stop the large influx of migrants along the Balkan route towards Europe, Kurz told reporters.

He added this required a regional agreement of countries along the Balkan route. Austria has introduced a daily cap on asylum-seekers entering the country, namely it will allow no more than 80 migrants a day to claim asylum at its borders while letting in no more than 3,200 people looking for asylum elsewhere to transit.

Our objective is clear and we are still prepared to show solidarity, accept refugees, but we have defined a limit of 37,500 asylum seeks per year, Kurz said adding that Europe did not lack conferences on migrant crisis but a political will to resolve it.

Responding on criticism from Greece over Austria's "unfriendly" decision to call a meeting of Balkan states to discuss the migrant crisis, but excluding Greece, Kurz said that at a recent meeting of foreign ministers of the EU and Western Balkan countries in Amsterdam, Greece failed to show readiness to reduce the number of migrants it was sending towards central Europe and that its interest was to transport the migrants out of the country, and such policy that cannot be accept here.

Europe is faced with one of the biggest challenges since World War II, Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner said. We all believe in the joint European response but until we find one, we must carry our national and regional measures together with the countries on the Balkan route so as to stop the huge refugee influx, she added.

The Vienna meeting is aimed at adjusting positions and reaching an agreement on the current migrant challenges along the Balkan route. The participants are also expected to adopt a joint declaration.

The Vienna migrant crisis conference was organised by the Austrian foreign and interior ministries, with foreign and interior ministers or their deputies from Austria, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Serbia in attendance.

Last update: Wed, 24/02/2016 - 15:50

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