Austria laments misunderstanding with Italy on border controls

Austrian Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil arrives for a meeting of European Union defence ministers at the EU Council in Brussels, Belgium May 18, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Vidal

A dispute between Italy and Austria over possible controls on their shared border was a “misunderstanding”, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern said on Wednesday, assuring Rome that his army had not put tanks at a crucial frontier crossing.

Austrian Defence Minister Hans Peter Doskozil said in remarks published on Tuesday that he expected controls to be imposed “very soon” at the border with Italy, prompting a furious response from Rome.

An official from his ministry added that four armoured vehicles and 750 troops were ready to be deployed if necessary.

“One must clear up misunderstandings like the ones that have evidently arisen with Italy,” Kern told a joint news conference with Doskozil, adding that Austria was preparing to introduce controls at the important Brenner crossing if there were a surge in migrant arrivals there, but there was no need to at present.

“We are not deploying tanks at Brenner and I can emphasize again that cooperation with Italy is really good,” Kern said, adding that there was no indication Italy was not in control of the situation on its southern flank, where there has been a surge in the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean.


Zainab Sa’id