Western Balkans Summit in Berlin: "Need Unity in Tackling Illegal Migration"

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: October 21, 2022; 11:48 ♦ (Vindobona)

Austria has been trying to curb illegal migration and smuggling of migrants for a long time. At this year's so-called "Berlin Process", the situation in the Wet Balkans was discussed, especially with regard to the issue of migration, where Austria's Interior Minister Gerhard Karner was also present.

Karner called for "consistent protection of the EU's external borders and a consistent return policy" at the Western Balkans Summit in Berlin. / Picture: © BMI Bundesministerium für Inneres / Jürgen Makowecz

At the Western Balkans Summit in Berlin, high-ranking European ministers discussed the migration situation in the Western Balkans. Austria's Interior Minister Gerhard Karner was also present at the so-called "Berlin Process" and also drew attention to organised crime in migration and traffickers.

Karner insisted that the fight against traffickers was the top priority. Other main topics of the "Berlin Process" were the fight against illegal migration, corruption and organised crime.

The summit focused on visa tightening by the Western Balkan states towards third countries such as India or Tunisia.

"We need unity in the fight against illegal migration as well as in the fight against trafficking in human beings," appealed Interior Minister Gerhard Karner, who spoke out in favour of "consistent protection of the EU's external borders and a consistent return policy" during the joint talks with EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and high-ranking ministers and officials.

These would be important signals "so that people do not set out on the hopeless path to the EU and endanger their lives in the process", said the Interior Minister.

The Interior Minister thus represents the policy of the Austrian government, which has been pursued for a long time and which more and more states support. Austria's position is that border protection measures and the fight against the international smuggling mafia are once again proving to be a European bandwagon.

"The fact that we are pulling together has already shown success. For example, Austrian police officers are supporting their Hungarian colleagues very successfully," Karner summed up. Moreover, the talks of Federal Chancellor Karl Nehammer with the Serbian government had led to the fact "that Serbia wants to tighten its visa rules".

The annual meeting is composed of EU states, the Western Balkan countries and representatives of the Commission. The initiative originated in Berlin in 2014.

The goal set at that time was to promote regional cooperation with the states of the Western Balkans and the integration of the region into the European Union. Furthermore, meetings of civil and business associations also took place.

The aim of the "Berlin Process" is to solve open bilateral and internal problems on the ground and to improve regional economic cooperation, which should lay the foundation for sustainable growth.

Further meetings in this context will take place on 21 October and 3 November 2022, where first the foreign ministers and then finally the heads of state and government will exchange views.

BMI - Ministry of the Interior - Bundesministerium fuer Inneres