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Romania – Schengen: The Austrian politicians criticise the government for the opposition to Romania and Bulgaria's accession to Schengen area

January 5, 2023

  Several Austrian politicians, both from the Social-Democrat and liberal opposition as well as from the conservative governing party have criticised, before the reunion on Thursday of the Council for Justice and Internal Affairs  of the EU, the position of the minister for internal affairs Gerhard Karner to oppose Romania and Bulgaria's accession to the Schengen area, says APA.   A Schengen blockade is not the answer to the number of asylum seekers and has nothing to do with this issue directly, said Othmar Karas, member of the People' s Party (OVP) and vice-chairman of the European Parliament according to whom mixing these two issues is ' irresponsible and unexplainable'.   In his turn, the head of the delegation of the Austrian Social -Democrat Party (SPO)to the European Parliament, Andreas Schieder has criticised the fact that the Austrian government has remembered the issue of migration a short time before th reunion of the ministers of internal affairs of the EU states.   ‘The former minister of internal affairs, Karl Nehammer ( present chanceller o.n) and his successor Gerhard Karner should have had something to say a long time ago, and something to propose. Now, to place a veto on the table is the evidence of their own failure and the incapacity of the Federal Austrian government', said Schieder.   He reproached chanceller Nehammer that he did not react more openly to the Hungarian premier Viktor Orban and the Serbian president Aleksandar Vucic in the issue of migration. Orban and Vucic are,  eventually, responsible for the ' increase of the Balkan route' of migration, he said.    ' The announced veto of Austria against Romania and Bulgaria's accession to Schengen area shows the shallowness of the Austrian government and threatens the European project: liberty', said the chair woman of the NEOS party, Beate Meinl-Reisinger in a press release issued on Wednesday, in which she asked the government in Vienna to withdraw its threat of the veto. ‘It is not good to mistake the issues of migration with the freedom of movement for the citizens of Europe’, said, in her turn, the leader of the Social-Democrat group in the European Parliament, Iratxe Garcia Perez in a press conference in Vienne.   As, according to the European Commission Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia meet the criteria for accession to the Schengen area, the Social-Democrat group supports their accession, said the Spanish MEP. In his turn, the Austrian chancellor, Karl Nehammer stated in a press conference jointly held with the chairman of the European People's Party (EPP), Manfred Weber that the discussion about Romania and Bulgaria's accession  to the Schengen area is not a political one, but a matter of security.   ' I don't think we have been heard adequately in Brussels, but Austria had  to deal with over one hundred thousand migrants, out of whom 75,000 were never registered. As a result, we have people who cross the borders by thousands. Nobody knows where they come from,if they are armed or not, if they are drug or people traffickers . So, this is a real security matter. This is exactly the reason why Austria has this vision on the Schengen area' , said Nehammer according to the conference  on the You Tube channel of PPE, the statements being translated into English.   'Romania and Bulgaria are not part of Schengen, but this is not a political matter, but a matter of security. The stake is the security of our citizens. We have over 75,000  people who cross the borders of the EU without being registered. This is a matter of security. We cannot hide it under the carpet, we have to talk about it' he said. Nehammer said that he noticed that Germany checked the borders with the Czech Republic which means that Austria will have to do the same with the borders with Slovenia and Hungary. ' Indeed, we have a problem with Schengen. We have a real problem with illegal migration' he said.   EPP had on Wednesday a reunion at high level in Vienna, presided by Manfred Weber and where the Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer took part as well.

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