Austrian Interior Minister looks to Israel for security expertise


Staff member
Austrian Interior Minister looks to Israel for security expertise
By Tamara Zieve
February 19, 2017 04:32
Sobotka’s trip included visits to Yad Vashem, Golan Heights.
AUSTRIAN INTERIOR MINISTER Wolfgang Sobotka pays a visit to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem

In the first visit by an Austrian official since the January inauguration of President Alexander Van der Bellen, border control was among a host of issues on which Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka sought Israeli guidance. “Israel has a lot of knowhow and experience, and this is important – not just for Austria, but it also can be for Europe as a whole,” he told The Jerusalem Post in an interview at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv last week.

“On the one hand, this country has an open and free society, but it also has effective border control,” he said. Austria registered some 90,000 asylum claims in 2015, and one percent of the country’s population is made up of asylum-seekers, according to officials. The country is now grappling with questions of integration.

“We asked them how they integrated hundreds of thousands of Jews from Eastern Europe,” said Sobotka, though he acknowledged that the Jewish faith that binds those immigrants to the state of Israel is a major distinction to Austria’s situation where the immigrants come from very different backgrounds. Another major difference is that Israel’s Jewish immigrants are granted citizenship.

Asked about his stance on US President Donald Trump’s controversial policy on immigrants, Sobotka responded: “The need for security of any state at these times is enormous and every state wants to know who approaches it territory, where people come from, who they are... I understand the Americans and also the Australians, Canadians, Israelis and Austrians alike.