Austrian Vice-Chancellor Werner Kögler, leader of the Austrian Green Party, distanced himself today from the position of the Federal Chancellor and the Minister of the Interior against the expansion of the Schengen area.
In a conversation about Austria’s domestic and foreign policy with representatives of the International Press Union, Kogler told BTA that he, like the country’s president Alexander Van der Bellen (former leader of the Green Party), does not share the opinion of his coalition colleagues – Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Minister of the Interior Gerhard Karner.
They have their reasons for their opinion, Kogler added, citing the numbers of migrants and the overwhelming percentage of them arriving in Austria without being registered.
“That is true, but considering that the majority comes from Hungary, then we should want to remove Hungary from Schengen,” the politician continued the formal logic. “But we do not want that. I would recommend that Austria abandon its position of rejecting enlargement. The Federal President and I are of the opinion that the harm to Austria is greater when we continue to stop enlargement. I support the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, if the control there works better than in Hungary, where the big flow is from,” he added.
Kogler emphasized that additional measures should be taken along the border between Bulgaria and Romania. A pilot project is already operating along the Bulgarian border, this speaks in favor of the thesis that the expansion should be undertaken.
“We will do what depends on us to achieve a breakthrough,” Kogler expressed confidence. It is also necessary for the EU to speed up, simplify and standardize asylum procedures for migrants, he said. “In practice, it is difficult to combine humanity and order, but I see that there is a chance,” concluded the vice-chancellor optimistically.
Earlier today, after a meeting in Vienna with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Maria Gabriel, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said that Bulgaria is “moving in the right direction” to join Schengen. According to him, however, there are many challenges in the Schengen area, as many countries are rolling back their border controls. According to him, Bulgaria must make more efforts in protecting the external borders of the European Union, and Austria’s veto is not personally aimed at Bulgaria or Romania.