190 countries have been in talks over the United Nations’ global compact for migration. Austria, who is leading the European Union under its presidency to the European Council, has expressed concerns and some of its right-wing politicians have called for a hard line on refugees, asylum and immigration. The Vice-Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache has been a vocal opponent of the deal. The compact should be adopted at the end of this year in Morocco. Mr. Strache has repeatedly reiterated that “migration [is] not a human right.”
The US and Hungary have already said that they would not support the compact and Poland is considering the same. Which position will be taken by Vienna is not yet clear but Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that he would like to coordinate with other states, including Switzerland that has, however, already expressed its endorsement. While the Austrian position is yet to be defined, the cabinet of Chancellor Kurz said that there would be some caveats from his country on certain points of the compact. The idea is to maintain Austria’s sovereignty on this matter.
“Monitoring movements of refugees and tackling causes of flight can only succeed with international cooperation,” said Andreas Schieder, the social democrat SPÖ’s ‘Spitzenkandidat’ for the European elections. He warned against “Austria being in the same league as Trump and [Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor] Orban” and jeopardising its reputation as a bridge builder. Austria’s liberal party NEOS (New Austria and Liberal Forum) said that Austria should not joint this club since it would create a distance from the international community.