It was agreed to intensify joint patrols and focused searches. Illegal migration has increased significantly in both countries in recent months, both interior ministers emphasized at a joint press conference in Zurich. No country can tackle this problem alone, which is why the “close alliance” between Austria and Switzerland is necessary, explained Karner and Keller-Sutter unanimously. In particular, moving on to other European countries should be combated together.
“We don’t solve the problems by passing migrants from one country to another,” said Keller-Sutter. Switzerland has been reporting since last year that more and more migrants from Austria are traveling on to Switzerland. Austria also has the same problem at its borders, according to the Swiss interior minister. The application of the existing readmission agreement between Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein should be improved, she emphasized again.
“Waving through is out of the question for us,” assured Karner, Austria is checking intensively, “we owe that to our neighboring countries”. Karner and Keller-Sutter see the visa policy of some Balkan states, especially Serbia, as being to blame for the increased number of asylum applications. The interior ministers criticized that people from India, Pakistan, Tunisia, Burundi and other countries could enter Serbia by plane without a visa and then continue their journey to the EU with smugglers.
The asylum applications are practically hopeless, says Karner. In the first eight months of this year there were 56,000 asylum applications in Austria and spoke of an “almost dramatic situation”. Since the beginning of the year there have already been 32,000 negative asylum decisions.
At Austria’s initiative, a letter to the EU Commission is therefore being prepared, in which it is requested to put pressure on Serbia to align its visa rules with those of the Schengen area. According to the Ministry of the Interior, the letter has so far been signed by Switzerland, Slovenia, Croatia and Germany. Karner explained that discussions are being held with other countries. According to the Minister of the Interior, it is essential that the EU Commission puts pressure on Serbia.
Of course there are also bilateral talks with Serbia, but joint action by the EU is crucial, emphasized Karner. In principle, Austria has a very good basis for talks with Serbia, and the Interior Minister emphasized that police cooperation is essential.