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Austria Prioritizes Security Issues While Saying No to Schengen Enlargement

© Sputnik / Vyacheslav Prokofyev / Go to the mediabankAustrian new Chancellor Karl Nehammer attends a news conference in Vienna, Austria.
Austrian new Chancellor Karl Nehammer attends a news conference in Vienna, Austria. - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.12.2022
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said on Tuesday at the EU-Western Balkans Summit that the EU should address issues of security, especially illegal immigration, before making decisions on the enlargement of the Schengen Area.
The goal of the summit is to confirm commitments on facilitating Western Balkans states’ progress on the path to EU accession. 
“[We] will discuss energy security of the Western Balkans countries, their candidate status, and of course issues of security. There is no Austria’s approval of Bulgaria’s and Romania’s joining [the Schengen area] yet.., There are 75,000 illegal migrants in Austria right now… We need to solve the security problems first,” he said upon arriving at the summit in Tirana.
Nehammer noted that this was not a problem for Austria’s security only, but also a challenge to the security of the entire European Union.
On November 16, the European Commission called for the early admission of Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia into the Schengen area, since the three member-states have proved their readiness by fulfilling all the necessary requirements.
On November 18, Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner said that Vienna would not support the admission of Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia into the Schengen area. Nehammer, in turn, said that the EU must strengthen its border protection in order to be able to manage the influx of illegal immigrants.   
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The first ever summit between the EU members and Western Balkan countries is taking place in Albania’s capital on Tuesday. Apart from migration and the Schengen zone, participants at the summit will discuss the conflict in Ukraine, political and policy engagement in the region as well as security and resilience efforts. A final declaration is expected to be adopted as a result of the summit.
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