Austria will continue to deport Afghan citizens within the limits of European Union law, Austrian Foreign Minister Karl Nehammer said in Vienna on Wednesday.
The head of Austrian diplomacy spoke shortly before the start of an extraordinary online meeting of EU interior ministers, at which Austria wanted to propose the establishment of reception centers for deportees in countries neighboring Afghanistan. According to Austria, the EU should provide the “framework conditions” for participating target countries and negotiate the issue as equal partners.
“It is important that the rule of law remains credible,” Nehammer said.
The Austrian minister of the interior emphasized that Austria currently has the second largest Afghan community in the EU, of some 44,000.
“The country will not be able to bear any additional burden,” Nehammer warned.
Asked by journalists why he thought countries neighboring Afghanistan, which were already facing a strong influx of refugees, would be willing to take in Afghans deported from Europe as well, Nehammer replied that that would be the “most sensible method of support”.
According to the Austrian minister, there is a clear consensus in the EU that the 2015 refugee crisis must not be repeated in any way, and that concerted and determined action is needed to avoid this.
Nehammer explained that the goal is to be able to keep most people in the region. In the meantime, however, the countries that help with this must not be disappointed.
Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, on the other hand, said on social media on Tuesday that he did not consider deportations to Afghanistan “appropriate” based on developments in Afghanistan’s domestic policy.
Title image: AP Photo/Hans Punz.