Foreign Ministry: Georgia unable to accommodate EU migrants

The individualised online hotel reservation system was created by Pro-Service with the support of Georgia’s Ministry of Economy. Photo by N. Alavidze/, 06 Mar 2017 - 15:44, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s Foreign Ministry says it is not feasible to take in migrants given the current difficulties faced by the country.

This statement came as a response to the comments of Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, who proposed to create refugee centers outside the borders of the European Union and named Georgia as one of these possible locations.

In response, the Georgian Foreign Ministry noted that the redistribution of migrants caught trying to illegally enter the EU has never been raised with Georgia.

"This issue has not been mentioned by Mr. Kurz neither during his Georgia visit [last month] nor elsewhere”, the ministry added.

Kurz made his proposal in an interview with the German newspaper, Bild.

"We need refugee centers outside the EU, which are operated jointly with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees”, he said.

Kurz further claimed the location of these camps is not important. Instead, he stressed the importance of "providing protection” for camps outside the EU and "that people who are trying to enter Europe illegally be sent back”.

Such redistribution facilities could be located in Egypt, Georgia or a country in the Western Balkans, Kurz said, adding that the Mediterranean route should be closed for illegal immigrants.

"It is easier to stop and send someone back at the EU’s external borders than when they have already moved into a flat in Vienna or Berlin”, he said.

Georgian Ambassador to Austria Konstantine Zaldastanishvili said earlier this morning that "Kurz [had] mentioned Georgia only incidentally and had nothing particular in mind”.

Zaldastanishvili added that the statement from Kurz was "unexpected and strange” for him as the Austrian Minister was on an official visit to Georgia in February, but never mentioned the idea of migrant camps in the country.

Kurz’s proposal was followed by a Russian reaction as well.

First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defence and Security of the Russian Federation Frants Klintsevich told the journalists that placing migrants in Georgia threatens Russia’s national security as well.

Klintsevich said that the proposal was a test for Georgia, but that it may later be followed by "more concrete proposals”.

"It is obvious that the EU will seek to remove the burden of the migration crisis and to shift it onto others”, Klintsevich said.