The Austrian government’s decision not to sign the UNO migration pact threatens to trigger a domino effect across Europe. After the Czech Republic, Denmark and Poland, Croatia and Slovenia lost their distance over the weekend. There are also reservations in the German CDU.
Unlike the German Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD), the German Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) spoke in the „Welt am Sonntag“ for a detailed examination of the UN-Migration Pact. „The debate on the migration pact is still pending in the parliamentary group,“ said Spahn, who is applying for successor Merkel as CDU party chairman.
„It is important that Germany retains its sovereignty to control and limit migration.“ In the „world“ interview, Spahn pointed out that the migration pact was not only about host countries, but also about the responsibility of the countries of origin. „There lies the real key. And the part of the debate must also play a role. “
By contrast, the German Council of Experts on Migration sees only advantages in the pact. According to the political scientist Petra Bendel, this opens up new opportunities for both immigrants and the target countries of the migrants. The sovereignty of the individual states remains untouched, said Bendel dpa. No state is forced to take certain measures.
The UN’s first „Global Pact for Safe, Orderly and Regulated Migration“ will be formally adopted at a conference in Marrakech on 10 and 11 December. It contains a number of guidelines and measures, the implementation of which is not legally binding. It is about better international cooperation in migration policy and standards in dealing with refugees.
At first, only the US had not joined. Hungary and Austria followed. The Federal Government warned that the Pact should not create a „human right to migration“. At home and abroad it hailed criticism. More than 100,000 people have expressed their support for the migration pact with their signatures as part of the online campaign of the charitable association #aufstehn.
Resistance also in Croatia and Slovenia
Denmark expressed reservations about the pact. The Czech Republic and Poland were also critical. The most popular party in Switzerland, the populist SVP, also faces the pact. Meanwhile, there was also resistance in Croatia and Slovenia. „Be sure that I will not sign the Marrakech Agreement,“ said Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. She understood the concern of Croatian citizens with regard to the agreement, Grabar-Kitarovic said, but referred to the government’s responsibility.
In Slovenia, the largest parliamentary party, the Conservative Democratic Party (SDS), called for an „unconditional“ rejection of the pact. Possible options include a special session of parliament, a mass petition and a „plebiscite“. According to the TASR news agency, Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak emphasized that the Migration Pact does not force any country to take any action, that migration policy remains the sovereign right of every state.
The ÖVP Head of Delegation in the European Parliament, Othmar Karas, stood in the debate behind President Alexander Van der Bellen on Saturday. He had stated that Austria had acquired the reputation of being a reliable international partner as a UNO headquarters on issues such as human rights and disarmament and should not „play it lightly“.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) on Friday confirmed the government’s rejection of the UNO migration pact in a conversation with Van der Bellen. You clearly admit to multilateralism, „but the content must be right,“ said Kurz, according to a statement sent to APA. He repeated concerns that Austria’s sovereignty could be limited.
Course correction required
Former Federal President Heinz Fischer criticized in the „Kurier“ (Sunday edition) the withdrawal of the government from the UNO migration pact as a „mistake“. He was „concerned, sad and disappointed“ about the rejection of the global migration pact by the federal government, said Fischer.
Migration researchers demanded a course correction from the Austrian government. As scientists who have long been researching at Austrian universities on the causes, consequences and framework conditions of migration, one is „horrified“ about their decision, it says in a release on Sunday.
A group in the Foreign Ministry also opposes the decision of the Federal Government. „Failure to join would represent a break with our foreign policy heritage since 1955, and also puts us the handshake quality and professionalism