Two months ago, Austria's chancellor Werner Faymann criticized Hungary for building a fence along its border.
Faymann proclaimed "To think that you can solve something with a fence, I believe this is wrong."
Europe's migration crisis escalated on Wednesday after Austria said it would build a fence on its border with Slovenia in a bid to create an "orderly" inflow of refugees and migrants into the country.
The move marks potentially the most serious fracture in the EU's response to the crisis, which has seen nearly 700,000 people enter Europe since the start of the year, as it would mark the first time a physical barrier is built between two members of the continent's passport-free Schengen zone.
Johanna Mikl-Leitner, interior minister, insisted that Austria would not totally shut its border with Slovenia. Instead, the plan involved "fixed facilities in the area of border crossings", she said.
"It's not just about a fence...it is about all technical possibilities to ensure a controlled, orderly influx into our country," she told Ö1, Austria's national broadcaster, adding that the plan was not "at all" an attempt to close the border.
Despite repeated meetings, leaders have so far failed to come up with a unified response. While some national capitals have introduced strict border controls, others have opted to let migrants and refugees straight through, despite EU rules dictating that they should be processed when they arrive.
The crisis has strained relations Germany and Austria which burst into the open on Wednesday.
In a significant toughening of German rhetoric towards the crisis, Thomas de Maizière, interior minister, on Wednesday blamed Austria for accelerating the movement of refugees and putting the German authorities under extreme pressure.
"Austria's behaviour in all this in the last few days has not been in order," said Mr de Maizière, immediately after a cabinet meeting in Berlin chaired by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
He added: "We have had to complain that the refugees have been taken to specific places without any warning and after dusk and from there they have come to the German border with preparation and without any warning."
The comments from Mr de Maizière follow criticism from Horst Seehofer, the head of the Bavarian sister party of Germany's ruling Christian Democrats, who on Tuesday lambasted Austria's handling of the wave of refugees, saying that a "lack of co-ordination" on the border between Bavaria and Austria meant that refugees were entering Germany unchecked.
Austria's decision to erect a fence also triggered concern in Italy, which fears that migrants travelling along the Balkan route may be diverted from Slovenia to its northeastern border area, near the cities of Gorizia and Trieste.
"It is worrying," said one senior Italian official. "It sends a strong signal." However the official cautioned that building a fence to slow the migrant flow was not the same as shutting the border.
Cascade of Fences
Various German officials are blaming Austria, who in turn is blaming Slovenia, who in turn blames Greece. And now Italy is concerned that Austria's fence with Slovenia will cause the flow to turn to Italy.
Irony of German Whine
The Irony of Germany's whine is intense. Chancellor Merkel and EU head Jean-Claude Juncker should have thought about the cascade effect when they welcomed these refugees with open arms.
As I said months ago, there is an unlimited demand for free services.
And Germany was not only handing out free services but free cash. So of course the migrants wanted to flood into Germany.
One cannot blame Slovenia for this. Nor should anyone blame former scapegoat Hungary.
No Cash Just Vouchers - Hah!
In a futile effort to appease the German public and halt the flow of refugees into Germany, Peter Altmaier, Chancellor Angela Merkel's chief of staff announced "officials will also start replacing cash handouts for refugees in reception centres with vouchers for food and essential purchases. The move will make would-be refugees think twice before trying to seek asylum in Germany."
I openly mocked that ridiculous notion in Sweden's Migration Projection Doubles in Three Months (And It Won't Stop There); No Cash, Just Vouchers (Hah!)
When you have no food and no shelter, it is virtually guaranteed that money would be spent on food and shelter. So in essence, vouchers are nearly as good as cash, just a bit less flexible.
Sweden is another country complaining. "It's as if we have a land border with Turkey," said Anders Danielsson, head of the Sweden's Migration Board.
Of course it's as if Sweden and Germany have boarders with Turkey. Sweden and Germany offer the most free services.
These refugees aren't stupid. They go to the countries with the biggest handouts.
Rules? Who Cares About Rules?
EU rules require countries who first receive the refugees to register them. That too is a seriously misguided policy.
The key entry point is Greece. But what the hell is cash-strapped Greece supposed to do with hundreds of thousands of refugees other than to let them move on to Slovenia?
I did the Slovenia math this morning in Slovenia Calls on Army, Private Security Forces, Ponders Article 222 for EU Military Aid to Halt Flow of Migrants.
84,000 migrants flooded Slovenia, a country of 2 million, in less than two weeks.
Let's do the math on that population inflow: 84,000 / 2,000,000 is a population growth of 4.2% in 10 days.
Were the US population to grow at the same rate, the US population would grow by over 13 million, 13,393,800 to be precise.
What would happen if 13.4 million migrants flooded entry points of San Diego California, El Paso Texas, and Miami Florida in the same 10 days?
After criticizing Hungary for building a fence, Austria, is now building a fence that will effectively trap the migrants in Slovenia, unless the flow turns to Italy instead. So now Italy is worried, and rightfully so.
Where Wall Really Needed
Months ago I proposed a wall between Greece and Turkey because the vast majority of the migrants enter the EU from that route. I also proposed limiting free food, free shelter, and free services.
Instead, Chancellor Merkel made a bargain with Turkey, offering the Turks 3 billion euros to pen the migrants.
Even worse, Germany shelved a report highly critical of Turkey's free speech record to make the deal.
I discussed the foolishness of that idea in Bargaining With the Devil: Germany Bribes Turkey With Aid Package, EU Sidelines Highly Critical Report on Turkey's Free Speech Record.
Concentration Camp for Migrants
One of Turkey's demands was visa-free access for 75 million Turks to the Schengen border-free area from as soon as 2016!
Merkel had clearly lost her mind to agree to that. Fortunately for the EU, the deal fell through when Turkey decided one day later €3 Billion Not Enough, coupled with a vow to not become a 'concentration camp for migrants'.
So here we are, in a Winter Scramble with Juncker Warning "Refugees Will Freeze to Death" coupled with an an apology from Tony Blair for the creation of ISIS.
Has anything refugee crisis in history ever been handled worse?
Origin of the Crisis
The origin of this mess is two-fold.
The US overthrow of Saddam Hussein that directly led to the a power vacuum and the creation of ISIS
US support for Al Qaeda rebels in the Syrian civil war also destabilized Syria creating millions of refugees in the war-torn country.
The free handouts from Germany, Sweden and others bought the crisis to where we are now. It would help if Syria was stable, even under a leader we do not like. But Obama will have no part of that.
Mish Proposed Strategy
- Block the border between Greece and Turkey
- Stabilize Syria, even under Assad, but also seek promises of free Syrian elections
- Eliminate or greatly reduce the free handouts
- Return economic refugees to point of entry
- Give Turkey some aid for US/UK role in this mess
US and EU bureaucrats have done none of the above.