Austrian politicians backpedal on refugee limits

On Wednesday, Austria’s top politicians announced a cap on the number of asylum-seekers entering the Alpine country in 2016. By evening, they were already pulling back on that bold statement. By Thursday, they abandoned it.

“I see this agreement as being about putting measures in place to keep the numbers of refugees down,” Peter Doskozil, the in-coming defence minister, told Austrian broadcaster ORF Thursday morning.

Doskozil’s explanation of the country’s controversial announcement was only a short step away in logic from Chancellor Werner Faymann’s description of the 37,500 cap as a “guideline.” Or the declaration by Gerhard Zapfl, the influential mayor of border town Nickelsdorf, that Wednesday’s announcement was a matter of “sending a signal.”

The immediate backpedalling came after human rights experts, including the European Fundamental Rights Agency, said limiting asylum-seekers is against the Geneva Convention and EU law.

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(Archive photo: Luis Ramirez/VOA)