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Austrian gov't debates upper limit for asylum seekers

Xinhua, November 24, 2016 Adjust font size:

The upper limit on the number of asylum seekers Austria will accept is presently cause for debate between the two parties of the federal coalition government, according to local media reports.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Sobotka of the centre-right People's Party (OeVP) Wednesday called for the limits -- 37,500 people for the current year and 35,000 for next year -- to be officially added to the asylum law.

In response, the Social Democrats (SPOe) minister responsible for constitutional matters, Thomas Drozda, turned down the request.

In an interview on radio program Oe1 Morgenjournal, Sobotka criticized what he called "blockade politics" on the part of the SPOe, and wants the laws amended to also stipulate that once the limit is reached, further cases to be reviewed count toward the limit for the following year.

He said one must "stop throwing sand in people's eyes" and "stand by what one has decided upon."

Drozda later appeared on the Oe1 Mittagsjournal program, and responded to Sobotka's comments by saying "I find this disconcerting in its phrasing."

He said it is not a question of stipulating an upper limit, but rather "of how one comes to practical solutions."

He further noted that Sobotka's request is not possible, either constitutionally or through European law.

The limits had been agreed upon by the government in principle in January, though the extent to which they would be enforced has since been subject of debate. Endit