Czech Foreign Minister States That Austria's Schengen-No Was Unexpected

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: January 4, 2023; 23:14 ♦ (Vindobona)

Czech Presidency Europe was briefly troubled by Austria's No to Schengen enlargement regarding Bulgaria and Romania. For Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky, Austria's "no" vote regarding Romania's and Bulgaria's Schengen accession came "suddenly".

According to Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky, Austria's "no" vote regarding Romania's and Bulgaria's Schengen membership came "suddenly." / Picture: © Pirátská strana / Flickr Attribution (CC BY-SA 2.0,

The Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner announced a predictable decision at the Schengen summit a month ago regarding the expansion of the Schengen Area. Romania and Bulgaria were denied access to the Schengen Area due to Austria's Veto. Croatia, on the other hand, received access. Karner justified this veto with the high number of asylum applications in Austria.

This decision sparked a lot of anger, not only in the two affected countries but there was also criticism inside the EU. The Romanian Interior Minister wrote an open letter to Austria, as reported by

It was a sudden Austrian no to Schengen enlargement, the Czech Foreign Minister said, according to ORF. It is not his task to evaluate "Austrian policy or the considerations that led to this decision," the 37-year-old said in the "DerStandard" interview, according to ORF. Nevertheless, he believes that the accession of the two countries would lead to greater security.

The often invoked unity in the European Union arises precisely given the war against Ukraine through the reconciliation of different interests, Lipavsky said according to ORF, who has been in office since December 2021.

This conflict demands a lot of political cohesion from Europe, where the last months and even years have seen repeated tensions between the individual member states. In the past six months, this has been felt particularly strongly by the government in Prague, which handed over the EU presidency to Sweden at the beginning of the year.

The Russian attack on Ukraine on Feb. 24 of last year "completely threw Prague's preparations off course," Lipavsky said, according to ORF. The invasion and its consequences "then naturally took center stage in our presidency - in energy policy as well as in the area of humanitarian, military and economic aid to Ukraine."