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Kurz calls for an “Axis of the Willing between Rome-Berlin-Vienna” to combat migration

Austria’s conservative chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, called  for an “axis of the willing” between Rome-Berlin-Vienna” in order to fight illegal migration. A new Axis of Evil like in 1940? For sure the word choice with the terms axis and willing burdened with ugly connotation and war is not a fortunate one. But maybe far-right Kurz wants indeed to unite two ideologies that brought destruction and pain and cost the lives of millions of people.

“In our view, we need an ‘axis of the willing’ in the fight against illegal migration,” Kurz told reporters after his meeting with the interior minister from Bavaria, which borders Austria. “I am happy about the good cooperation that we want to develop between Rome, Vienna and Berlin. I think it marks very sensible cooperation that will contribute to reducing illegal migration to Europe.”

“We shouldn’t wait until we have a catastrophe, like in 2015,” Kurz said, referring to the refugee crisis when German Chancellor Angela Merkel opened her country’s borders to hundreds of thousands of migrants. “Instead it is important to act on time.”

Kurz tweeted also that “Exactly now that Albania has become the new route for human smugglers we need to build an axis of the willing between Rome-Berlin-Vienna to fight illegal migration. Help Albania to protect its borders in order to avoid a similar situation like in 2015.”

The Austrian Chancellor was at a meeting with German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, a Bavarian conservative who shares the Austrian chancellor’s views on tightening up Europe’s borders.  Kurz said that fighting illegal immigration would be a top priority for Vienna’s presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2018.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer pledged his support but Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced skepticism. 

“In our view, we need an ‘axis of the willing’ in the fight against illegal migration,” Kurz told reporters after his meeting with the interior minister from Bavaria, which borders Austria. “I am happy about the good cooperation that we want to develop between Rome, Vienna and Berlin. I think it marks very sensible cooperation that will contribute to reducing illegal migration to Europe.”

Kurz’s meeting with Seehofer means the German minister was unable to attend Merkel’s “integration summit” happening the same day in Berlin. Referring to media reports that this was meant as a snub to the German leader, Seehofer said his reason for not attending was the presence of a journalist, Ferda Ataman, who has compared his policies on migration to the Nazis.

On Tuesday, Seehofer had a phone call  with Italy’s far-right and populist Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

The new government in Rome is also keen to build a partnership with Vienna and Berlin on security, counterterrorism and migration, Seehofer said stressing he was in “full agreement” with Salvini on how to secure the EU’s external borders.

Seehofer is also leader of Bavarian arch-conservative CSU, the sister party of Merkel’s CDU. As he allies himself with other European leaders who oppose Merkel’s asylum policy, a feud between him and the chancellor broke out again beginning of the week, after she rejected his  proposal to turn refugees away at the German border if they had already applied for asylum in another European country.

This measure was a key tenet of Seehofer’s “master plan for migration,” which he had planned to unveil on Tuesday. After the chancellor’s veto, he Seehofer canceled the presentation of his 63-point plan.

Merkel calls for a European solution, instead of what she characterized as a “unilateral German decision.”

On Tuesday,  Seehofer invited Salvini, his hardline Italian counterpart, to Berlin next week to discuss a joint proposal to protect the EU’s external borders.  Salvini is not just any interior minister. A member of the anti-immigration League party, Salvini was behind Italy’s decision to close its ports to a rescue ship carrying 629 migrants at the weekend. The far-right politician was sworn in last month with a pledge to deport 500,000 migrants from his country.

Read also:Merkel facing revolt as conservatives demand asylum clampdown

PS Crypto-Nazis among themselves.

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