Vienna will not participate in the resettlement of Afghan refugees evacuated from Kabul after the Taliban takeover, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said, insisting that the country already has enough Afghan migrants.
The United States and its allies evacuated more than 123,000 civilians from Kabul, the Afghan capital, after it fell into the hands of Taliban militants in mid-August. Most of them will be granted asylum in America, but the EU has also agreed to resettle 30,000 people. While Germany and France have shown their eagerness to accept Afghans, Austria has been among the nations that blatantly rejected the idea.
“We will not welcome any Afghan fleeing to our country as long as I am in power”, Kurz reiterated Tuesday in his interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa.
The position of the Austrian government on the matter was “realistic” and did not mean that there was a lack of solidarity with other EU capitals from Vienna, he insisted.
“After more than 44,000 Afghans have arrived in our country in recent years, Austria is already home to the fourth largest Afghan community in the world.” per capita, recalled the Chancellor.
The problem is that “The integration of Afghans is very difficult” and requires considerable effort that Austria simply cannot afford at the moment, the 35-year-old conservative politician said. They mostly have a low level of education and completely different values compared to the rest of the country’s population, he said, adding that more than half of young Afghans living in Austria support religious violence.
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But Vienna was still keen to help Afghans in distress, as it allocated € 20 million to help countries neighboring Afghanistan resettle the refugees, Kurz revealed.
The rapid Taliban offensive, which saw the radical group claim most of the Afghan territory and reclaim the capital Kabul in a matter of weeks amid the withdrawal of American troops from the country, “took everyone by surprise”, admitted Chancellor.
EU members “Must now exert massive pressure on the Taliban to continue to respect women’s rights and human rights.” The progress made over the past 20 years must not be undone ”, he added.
However, EU policies during the time of the 2015 migrant crisis – when hundreds of thousands of people fleeing conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East were admitted to the bloc – “Can not be a solution neither for Kabul nor for the European Union” more, says Kurz.
The Austrian leader insisted he was “It is now clear to all European governments that illegal immigration must be fought and that Europe’s external borders must be secured” to resolve this problem.
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He believes the block must work to break “the economic model” human traffickers who deliver people to Europe. As for migrants, they should be turned back at EU borders and sent back to their country of origin or to safe third countries, Kurz said.
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