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Heinz-Christian Strache; Sebastian Kurz. Photo supplied

Austrians: ‘We feel like foreigners in our own country’

Since 2015, thousands of migrants have crossed the Balkans heading for northern Europe, leaving Austrian citizens feeling estranged. A national newspaper published their views on migration, noting that Austrians now felt like foreigners in their own country.

Published: May 6, 2019, 8:20 am

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    Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache’s comments about “population displacement” [Bevoelkerungsaustausch] has struck a cord with Austrians. In response to an opinion article in Austria’s largest newspaper Kronen Zeitung, hundreds agreed that the demographic shift has become a reality.

    Kronen Zeitung republished some of the “hundreds” of responses they received in response with many readers saying that mass migration had changed Austria to the point where they felt alienated. “There is a creeping Islamisation, a population change, or a population displacement,” Strache told Austrian newspaper OE.24 earlier.

    “The mood in our condominium has deteriorated so much that we (65 and 68) are ready to move away to finally be able to live in peace again,” one comment read, while another complained that the foreigners are not interested in learning to speak German.

    “In our elementary school out of consideration for foreign cultures no more excursions are made, the diet is adapted to religious wishes, the violence of the foreign elementary school boys is frightening,” one noted, while another observed, “Foreign-language parents with their children do not bother to speak our language”.

    “On the streets, in the public transport and the municipal buildings: We feel like foreigners in our home,” another Kronen Zeitung reader said.

    Strache had spoken out against mass migration and the current demographic shift, adding that his party would continue to fight against “population displacement”, doubling down on his anti-immigration stance ahead of European elections on May 23.

    Polls in Austria show the Freedom party in third place, with its senior coalition partner, the Conservative Austrian People’s Party, in first and the opposition Social Democrats in second place.

    “It is our goal to correct the legacy of the previous government’s immigration policy and to stop immigration from Islamic countries and promote integration,” Strache said.

    After the May vote, the Austrian chancellor has proposed a crackdown to help those who want to close EU borders: “Whoever leaves illegally must not be able to arrive.”

    Chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, told the Austrian daily Die Presse: “There are too few sanctions in the European Union. For example, against those who ignore the debt rules or allow irregular migrants to pass from one state to another” .

    He repeated his willingness to help the Italian government to close its borders, but added a warning: “Whoever leaves illegally must not be able to arrive in central Europe, but must stopped and sent back to the external borders.”

    The task of Brussels after the May 26 vote, will mean the end of the Lisbon Treaty if sovereignists do well. A new treaty should “help the countries on the borders of the European Union” , like Italy or Greece.

    He added: “If the member states continue to let illegal immigrants enter Central Europe and do not comply with their obligations, clear sanctions are needed.”

    Kurz would like the European Union to no longer tolerante those who do not register illegal immigrants because “the European Council last June has agreed a change in migration policy”.

    The proposal of the Austrian chancellor also provides for better cooperation with the states of North Africa to end the deaths at sea and to destroy the business of human traffickers in the long term .

    “At the same time, we must provide assistance on the spot and improve integration programmes in Europe, to allow the weakest of the weak, those who come from war zones,” he said.

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