On Thursday members of the Austrian armed forces along with the federal police engaged in an exercise to test their ability to secure the border in case of an emergency. The joint exercise was held at Ferlach, a short distance from the Slovenian border which has seen thousands of migrant crossings after the Hungarian border was closed last year.
The military and police were tested in a number of different scenarios, including one where migrants broke through the border security and attempted to escape into the country, reports Kurier. The aim of the drills is to create a communication and cooperation alliance between the two groups to better coordinate their joint resources in case migrants are able to storm through the Balkan countries.
150 soldiers from the Austrian army and 50 police officers were involved in the operation which also saw 40 soldiers playing the part of migrants. The troops roleplaying illegals were told to try their hardest to cross the border in whatever means they could, and to get away. As the operation progressed the army flew in five helicopters to help locate the fake migrants who had manged to evade the combined force at the border.
Carinthian provincial police director Michaela Kohlweiss and Austrian army commander Walter Gitschthaler said they were satisfied at how the operation progressed and at the ability of the army and police force to act in cooperation with each other. “Each organization involved has its own language and its own tactics in the relatively new situation of assistance operations, it is crucial that we improve cooperation wherever it is possible,” the police director said.
Tags: Breitbart London, Immigration, Europe Migrant Crisis, Austria, Slovenia
It acted after Austria hosted a meeting with Balkan states on the migrant issue, to which Greece was not invited.
Meanwhile, EU and Balkan interior ministers met in Brussels to try to heal rifts over the migrant issue.
Speaking afterwards, the EU’s migration commissioner warned the bloc’s migration system could “completely break down” within weeks.
Dimitris Avramopoulos said member states had until a 7 March summit with Turkey to curb the number of migrants.
“In the next 10 days, we need tangible and clear results on the ground,” he told reporters.
Austria, Serbia and Macedonia have taken their own steps to limit entry to migrants, angering Greece, which fears the controls will cause a bottleneck. The measures also threaten Europe’s Schengen passport-free travel area that spans 26 countries.
On Wednesday at the State Court in Vienna’s Neustadt an 18-year-old Afghan was sentenced to 20 months in prison without parole for rape. He also has to pay 5000 euros compensation to the 72-year-old woman, who has been very marked by the attack.
The incident on 1 September last year created a sensation: the penioner was walking her old dog in the Schwechat meadow near Traiskirchen in Lower Austria, when she encountered two young asylum seekers swimming in the river. According to an acquaintance of the victim in the witness stand, the boys were “also very nice” at first, they even helped the woman over an embankment. “But then one them fell upon her from behind.”
What exactly happened that afternoon in the meadow that is much loved by pet-owners, we did not learn at the trial, because the public was excluded during the testimony of the victim and the accused.
However, DNA traces confirmed that the pensioner was anally raped. The then 17-year-old Afghan was quickly caught. He does not dispute the crime, but says he was drunk. His friend says he wasn’t aware of the rape.
The idea of the fence has been supported by Austrian Defense Minister Gerald Klug, who said that the measure is being taken “in order to properly control the refugees.”
But “we must not lose sight of humanity,” he said, adding that Hungary’s barbed fence is not the solution to refugee issue.
In the meantime, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere slammed Vienna’s handling of the refugee crisis.
“The behavior of Austria in recent days was not right,” de Maiziere told a news conference in Berlin, “We observed that refugees, without warning and after dark, were being driven to the German border without any provisions or forethought. There were intensive contacts.”
“Especially in the last four months of 2015, we saw a massive increase in demand for weapons. Most people said they wanted a weapon because they didn’t feel safe,” a local police representative told the media.
Obtaining a firearms purchase license in Austria involves passing special courses concerning basic handling and knowledge of weapons.
“It’s clear that people’s general sense of unease has increased,” Robert Siegert, industry spokesman for the arms trade in the Chamber of Commerce told broadcaster ORF, apparently referring to the atmosphere of insecurity following the Paris terror attacks in November as well as recent assaults on women on NYE in Cologne and other EU cities including Salzburg.
Now migrants coming to Austria to travel through Germany and beyond will be denied access and sent back home, Austrian authorities said on Friday. Slovenia is expected to resort to similar measures in order to avoid becoming a refugee bottleneck.
“What is the situation currently on the German-Austrian border? That only those who want asylum in Germany are being let through, and those who want to travel onward are sent back,” Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told state broadcaster ORF, as quoted by Reuters.
Over 3,000 migrants that arrived under false identities have already been sent back since the beginning of the year, border officials reported.
“It’s big business and what hasn’t yet been ascertained is who is running this show. A lot of [fake documents] are quite well produced, which means certain groups are actually making a lot of money and causing a lot of problems,” Mallinson said, adding that “it’s very difficult to distinguish between genuine refugees and those – and there are many of them – who are jumping on the bandwagon and coming in [to Europe].”
The two are men who are thought to have provided help to members of the group that carried out the attacks on Nov. 13 in which 130 people were killed, two Austrian newspapers reported.
“Two people who arrived from the Middle East were arrested at the weekend in accommodation for refugees on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization,” Robert Holzleitner, a spokesman for the Salzburg prosecutor’s office, said.
Germany says the situation is the worst refugee crisis since the end of the Second World War. It is now reappraising its open arms policy toward immigrants.
Austria plans to deploy the army to stem the influx of refugees from Syria, the greater Middle East and Africa.
Refugees are attempting to cross the border as Hungary plans to arrest illegal immigrants on Tuesday.
“Illegal border crossings will no longer be misdemeanors but felonies punishable with prison terms or bans,” declared Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban.
At least 2,200 soldiers will assist police in tackling the refugee crisis on the border, according to a statement from the Austrian government.
The soldiers will be deployed when their help is required, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann said, Krone newspaper reported.
“If Germany carries out border controls, Austria must put strengthened border controls in place,” Vice Chancellor Reinhold Mitterlehner said in a joint news conference with Chancellor Werner Faymann. “We are doing that now.”