VIENNA – Operation Sophia causes turmoil within Austria’s ruling coalition

After Chancellor Sebastian Kurz rejected EU High Representative Josep Borrell’s idea of reviving Operation Sophia for monitoring the arms embargo against Libya on grounds that having EU-boats rescuing shipwrecked migrants could be interpreted as “a ticket to Europe”, Social Affairs Minister Rudolf Anschober of the Greens openly disagreed with Kurz’s stance on Monday (3 February), saying he would welcome EU-boats rescuing migrants.

EU foreign minister decided on 20 January to revive a maritime surveillance mission in the Mediterranean to enforce a potential cease-fire in Libya and a UN arms embargo against the country’s warring parties.

Meanwhile, the bloc is scrambling to avoid being drawn into a conflict that threatens to destabilise the whole of the Mediterranean.

To many observers, Austria’s Green-conservative coalition has had one principle design flaw from the start: fundamental differences in the parties’ (and their respective voters’) views on migration.

Once again, these differences came to the fore. Less than 30 minutes after Anschober showed support for reviving Operation Sophia, the conservative Foreign Minister, Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP), said, via a press statement, that Anschober’s statement was irrelevant, as the matter falls into Schallenberg’s competence. (Philipp Grüll | EURACTIV.de)

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