Europe

Austrian minister: need to shut Balkan route more completely

Austria's defense minister says his country wants to step up efforts with countries along the Balkan migrant route to plug gaps in border protection, arguing that the route "is still not as closed as it should be."

The Balkan route was largely shut last March. But Austrian Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil told Tuesday's edition of the daily Die Welt that there is still "significant activity by criminal smugglers," with 500 to 1,000 migrants a week getting through.

He said that "the situation could worsen at any time," pointing to Turkish threats to scrap an agreement with the European Union to stop migrants.

Doskozil said Austria plans "close cooperation in the framework of a new Balkan border protection offensive" with countries in the region.