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Merkel set to meet new Austrian Chancellor Kurz in Berlin

Europe
17.01.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Berlin (dpa) - Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is due in Berlin on Wednesday to meet his German counterpart Angela Merkel, one month after he formed a controversial coalition with a far-right party.

Merkel is expected to welcome Kurz, 31, to the German capital with full military honours.

Ahead of the trip, Kurz praised Merkel as an "experienced head of government" with whom he was in close and regular contact. Germany is a very important partner for Austria, he said.

Kurz and his conservative Austrian People‘s Party (OeVP) forged a government in December with the anti-immigrant and eurosceptic Freedom Party (FPOe) following a hotly contested election in October in which immigration featured highly.

The two neighbouring EU countries have differed greatly in recent years over immigration policy, with Vienna taking a much harder line than Berlin.

When he was foreign minister, Kurz criticized Merkel‘s open door immigration policy. In contrast to Merkel, he also favours restricting the powers of the European Union.

They also have differences over Russia, where Kurz would like sanctions imposed on Moscow after it occupied the Ukrainian territory of Crimea eased.

Kurz told the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper that it was normal for neighbours to have differences, but said that many EU countries had recently moved "in the right direction," including Germany.

"Now we need proper protection of the EU‘s external borders and not the constant debate about redistributing refugees throughout the EU according to quotas," he told the newspaper.

Berlin is Kurz‘s third international trip since becoming chancellor after Brussels and Paris.

 

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