Austria Plans to Block Migrant Influx from Italy

The Italian Foreign Ministry has summoned the Austrian ambassador over Vienna’s decision to re-introduce border controls.Keen to avoid another influx, it said it would introduce controls at the busy Brenner Pass border crossing with Italy if one materialised there.Austria put up border checks on the Hungarian border in 2015 when migrants pursued a different route to Europe.”I expect that very soon border controls will be activated and that an assistance deployment [by the military] will be requested”, Austrian Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil told Krone.Austria deployed tanks against possible migrant incursions on its border with Italy Tuesday prompting Rome to summon the Austrian ambassador to clarify matters.Austria’s plan to impose border controls and possibly deploy troops to stop migrants crossing from Italy will have repercussions for security cooperation between the two countries, Italy’s interior minister said on Tuesday. That influx was only likely to increase, according to the UN. And it called on countries in the 28-nation bloc to do more to help Italy by accepting more migrants for relocation and by giving more money for an EU-Africa fund to cut down on immigration.The paper said that 750 soldiers were available and that four armored vehicles had already been sent to the area over the weekend.Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz has said that Vienna is prepared to “protect” the frontier with Italy “if necessary”, as he spoke with the Austria Press Agency, as cited by AP. Ministry spokesmen on Tuesday dismissed reports that the vehicles already are at Brenner, the main crossing from Italy.The move drew complaints at the time that it was undermining the EU’s principle of free movement, though Austria says it did what it had to do to safeguard its borders. “We need to have other countries joining Italy and sharing that responsibility”. “These are armoured vehicles without weapons which could block roads”.While the rescue efforts for vessels carrying illegal immigrants are mostly led by the Italian coastguard, there are many rescue vessels run by non-profit groups, sailing under the flags of other nations including European Union countries like Germany and Malta.Italy’s interior ministry said on Monday that the migrant and refugee arrivals so far this year have risen by almost 20 percent compared to the time in 2016.Italy says it can no longer be expected to deal single-handedly with the vast number of asylum seekers, a lot of them economic migrants, streaming across the Mediterranean.