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Austria starts checks at Slovak border to stop immigration

Kirsten Griesherber – Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) — Austria said on Wednesday it would start checking travel documents at its border with Slovakia, following a similar decision by the Czech Republic to prevent migrants from entering the country without permission.

The inspections are set to start at midnight on Wednesday and will initially take place at 11 border crossings over 10 days, the Austrian government said.

The Austrian Ministry of the Interior has said border controls are aimed at preventing migrant smugglers from using Austria as an alternative route. Czech Republic checks It starts Thursday at the border with Slovakia.

“We have to react before the smugglers react,” Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Kalner told public broadcaster ORF.

Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia all belong to the European Union’s visa-free Schengen zone, and residents of the member states can generally cross the border without showing a passport or visa. has adopted temporary border controls in the past for a variety of reasons, including curbing illegal immigration and preventing the spread of coronavirus.

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Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer told reporters that he would meet with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Serbian President Alexander Vucic next week to discuss immigration issues.

“The states are not doing this for themselves, but to fight organized crime and smuggling and to relieve pressure from the border,” Nehammer said in Vienna.

Austria introduced restrictions along its borders with Hungary and Slovenia in 2015, allowing more than one million asylum seekers to enter the EU from war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Alpine country has repeatedly extended these controls and still maintains them today.

At the time, the Czech Republic was detaining only about 8,500 migrants, but so far this year, 12,000 unregistered migrants have been detained, the Czech Interior Ministry said. A total of 125 smugglers have been arrested in the Czech Republic this year, a significant increase from previous years.

Most immigrants do not want to stay in the Czech Republic or Slovakia and pass through to reach wealthier countries such as Germany, Sweden and Austria.

Karel Janicek from Prague contributed to the report.

This version corrects Viktor Orban’s title to Chancellor instead of President of Hungary.

Follow all AP stories about migration.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission. Austria starts checks at Slovak border to stop immigration

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