The Austrian president expressed the opposite view as Prime Minister Sebastian Kurz.
At the official opening of the European Alpbach Forum, Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen called for more refugees to be received from Afghanistan. He spoke in contrast to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who had previously emphasized that he refuses to provide protection to other people fleeing the Central Asian country, despite the current situation in which the extremist Taliban movement has seized power.
According to him, the EU and individual member states have a legal, moral and political obligation to provide protection to all those who are compelled to leave their homeland. Van der Bellen said the priority should be to provide assistance to women and girls who worked in the European Union or its member states.
During the discussion that followed his speech, he admitted that Austria had already taken in many refugees in recent years, including Afghan nationals. But he added, “It’s irrelevant. Adopting 100, 500 or 1,000 families would of course be technically feasible.” He responded to the Chancellor’s arguments about the alleged problems with Afghan integration by saying that most of them were doing well in the country.
The second largest group in Europe
There are currently over 40,000 Afghans in Austria, which is the second largest group in the European Union by population of the host country. The session suggested that people from Afghanistan should be helped in neighboring countries, which the European Union should also support in this regard.
Andreas Trischel, the new president of the European Albach Forum, said at the start of the event that Europe was strong enough and did not rely on the United States during crises like the one in Afghanistan.
The Alpbach European Forum, held annually in the Tyrolean village of the same name since 1945, takes place this year from August 18 to September 3. This year, experts from science, politics, economics, culture and civil society are discussing a number of major topics, such as the coronavirus or the climate crisis and the future of Europe.
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