Helping Western Balkan states in curbing migration is in Austria s best interest
Supporting Western Balkan states in curbing migration is in Austria s best interest, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said after a meeting with Western Balkan premiers in Vienna on Friday.
The meeting was attended by Serbian PM Ana Brnabic, and prime ministers Zoran Zaev from Northern Macedonia, Zoran Tegeltija from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Zdravko Krivokapic from Montenegro and Albin Kurti from Kosovo, as well as Miroslav Lajcak, EU Special Representative and former foreign minister of Slovakia.
The negotiations focused on taking joint action against illegal migration along the Western Balkan route. The premiers also discussed the prospects of the accession of the Western Balkans states into the EU, exchanged experiences in the fight against the coronavirus, and spoke about ways to support the economy after the pandemic.
“We can only defeat illegal migration together with the Balkan countries, and the sooner we stop those who would not be eligible for refugee status in the EU, the sooner those tens of thousands also willing to come will understand that it is not worth the effort,” Mr Kurz emphasized. Austria has already been supporting the Balkan states in border protection with police forces, drones and night vision cameras, and it s already embarked on negotiations to enable the repatriation of migrants from some southern European states, he added.
“It s important and right to support these countries. Whatever it is that we give, it s certainly not free aid, because stability in the Balkans is also in the best interest of Austria and the EU,” the chancellor pointed out.
Mr Kurz also announced that Austria would donate 1 million doses of COVID vaccines to the Balkan states because “we cannot fight the epidemic alone, only if all countries of Europe are successful in their protection efforts,” he said.