Austria’s Defense Minister Mario Kunasek proposed for the deployment of soldiers from EU member states to support Frontex in guarding European borders from migrants.
Kunasek spoke in a meeting of European defense ministers in Vienna saying that military personnel would be under police control, and said there was a “positive discussion” about the idea.
The Austrian minister said that his country has tried the plan at its own borders and it has been effective. Austria held a drill overseen by a far-right minister in June. The exercise, that included soldiers and Black Hawk helicopters, simulated an influx of hundreds of migrants at the country’s borders.
Austria is not alone on enforcing stricter border controls. Pressure for tougher measures has also been expressed by the governments of Italy and Hungary. This was highlighted at the meeting of Italian-right-wing Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini with Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Milan last Tuesday.
The Italian government caused a stir when it closed its ports to migrant arrivals and threatened not to pay its contribution to the EU budget, while Hungary rejected the distribution of refugees among member countries and raised a border fence.
However, some countries, including Germany and Estonia, objected to the use of the army in migration management. “Excluding the case of a military conflict, all other problems can be handled by the police,” Estonian Defense Minister Yuri Luke said.
At the same time, the European Commission has proposed to increase the number of border guards to 10,000, from the few hundred that there are today.