Austria is sending 70 soldiers to secure its border with Italy at the Brenner Pass, as Bulgaria urges the European Union to defend its frontiers with “force of arms”.
Austria’s government believes that between 700 and 1,000 migrants are infiltrating the country every month — often on freight trains coming through the pass — EU Observer reports.
Austrian police chief Helmuc Tomac said the measures were important “not only to prevent illegal migration but, above all, to save human lives,” reminding listeners of two migrants who died aboard a goods train in 2016.
Italy has been the main entry point for migrants into Europe en route to more generous welfare states — such as Britain, Germany, and Sweden — after a deal between the EU and the Islamist government in Turkey began to stem the flow into crisis-wracked Greece, which absorbed some 885,000 migrants in a single year in 2015.
Austria has perhaps been the EU member-state least enthusiastic about mass immigration outside the Visegrad Group — Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, and Slovakia — and police previously been attacked by alt-left, open borders activists whilst trying to control the border.
Bulgaria, meanwhile, deployed 600 soldiers — said to include “highly specialised combat groups” — to its frontier with Turkey, which is also one of the EU’s external borders.
The south-east European country has called on the rest of the bloc to take similarly robust action, with Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov warning German media: “We cannot allow illegal migrants to come to Europe in large numbers.
“We should deploy Nato or EU forces in Italy and Greece and defend the external borders of the European Union by force of arms.”