Potsdam (Germany) – Migrants should no longer be able to get to Germany and Europe via the Balkan route, German Interior Minister, Thomas de Maiziere said on Friday.
Maiziere made this known at a joint news conference with Austrian Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka in Potsdam near Berlin.
He said that he was concerned refugee numbers would rise with people now coming to Italy by sea from Libya.
“It’s clear that the Balkan route is a thing of the past and no longer will or should be a place again from where people will be waved through to Germany and Austria and to the centre of Europe,” Maiziere said.
“Now the issue is alternative routes … we are of course concerned that we’ll get rising refugee numbers again as they come via Libya and Italy,” he said.
Maiziere said that he agreed with Austria that the situation at Italy’s northern border should not replicate the situation on the Balkan route last year.
Austria has said it might reintroduce border controls at the Alpine Brenner pass to keep migrants from coming from Italy and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Austria’s plans to build a fence there were “shamelessly against European rules”.
Sobotka said the measure was necessary to prevent the route from turning into a major corridor for migrants seeking to reach northern Europe after they arrive to Italy through the Mediterranean from Libya and other North Africa nations.
“What we have demonstrated is that the rule of law, the essential measure for us is that we want to register people who come to Austria, that our borders are not overrun,” Sobotka said.
He said his border management that had been in place since February was effective and we have applied this on the border with Hungary “… and we are preparing for this on the border with Italy”. (dpa/NAN)