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This article has been co-authored by Chiara Libiseller, doctoral student at the Defence Studies Department of King’s College London, and Bernhard Völkl.
Central European states prepare for border controls and managing migration
Minister of Defence Mario Kunasek has met with his Greek, Croatian and Hungarian counterparts this month. The main focus of these meetings was improved defence cooperation, mainly within the Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC) framework. The group of participating states consists of Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia and the Czech Republic, with Poland acting as an observer. The cooperation initially focused on the pooling and sharing of military capabilities, but since the influx of refugees and migrants to Europe in 2015 has increasingly turned to dealing with mass migration. To prevent further ‘uncontrolled influxes of migrants throughout Europe’, the CEDC states have conducted a border management exercise in Austria in 2017 and will hold the next exercise in 2019 in Hungary. In Austria, the Bundesheer is technically not tasked with border controls and handling migration, but it can be (and has been) called upon for assistance by the responsible institutions. The current controls at the Austrian border to Slovenia and Hungary, and the Bundesheer’s border deployment with it have recently been extended until May 2019.
The CEDC also focuses on stability in the Balkans, a region where the Bundesheer has traditionally kept a large footprint. A third tier of the CEDC is the “CBRN Surveillance as a Service” project, more details on which can be found here.
Disaster relief in southern Austria
After devastatings storm and floods in Southern Austria, the Bundesheer has been called for relief. Several hundred personnel and a number of rotorcraft were deployed to clear the area, provide for those worst affected, and seal a breached dam.
The Bundesheer, often seen as a disaster relief force rather than a military institution, has been called to just shy of 100.000 hours of emergency response in 2017, and its air arm alone has been deployed for the same 26 times between January and August 2018.
Header image: Austrian Armed Forces Photograph/Horst GORUP
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