Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, said that illegal immigration poses the same threat as climate change does, placing both issues on top of his agenda.
“It is important to protect our environment but it is also important to decide who will live in our country … if we do not fight against illegal migration, Europe will not be the same in five, 10 or 20 years,” said Kurz in an interview with FT, published on Monday.
“If we do not control who is allowed to come we will not be able to live in security … and we will not be able to keep our identity,” he added.
The Austrian Chancellor also said that it was the government’s duty to “protect young girls” from the harmful side-effects of immigration, defending his government’s plan to impose a headscarves ban for Muslim girls under 14 in school.
Kurz recently came back to power after a seven-months absence, as he stroke a deal between Austria’s Greens and his conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) in early 2020.
The “controversial” coalition reflected Kurz efforts to balance his party’s key concerns, such as the protection of cultural identity and illegal immigration and the Green’s concerns over Austria’s alignment with the carbon-neutrality target by 2040.
As Kurz described it, the point was the duration of the government and not ideology.
“We are taking on a lot in the government’s program, from tax relief for working people, through steps toward better environmental protection, to a consistent line in the areas of security and migration,” Kurz said during a handover ceremony at the Austrian Chancellery.
“We were elected for different things”, said Werner Kogler, the Greens leader, who will now serve as Vice Chancellor.
Before 2017 elections, Kurz was sticking to the immigration policy, supporting that new arrivals threatened Austria’s welfare state.
The politician who has frequently been “accused” of adopting the far-right rhetoric of the Freedom Party (FPO), previously governed through a coalition with FPO that collapsed on May, when a video emerged, in which FPO leader, Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, was asking for election interference allegedly from the niece of a Russian oligarch.