19:42 GMT26 January 2021
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    The Italian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said it summoned Rene Pollitzer, the Austrian ambassador to Rome, over Austria's plans to toughen border control and send troops to the Brenner Pass, which is one of the main transport routes between the two states which runs through the Alps.

    ROME (Sputnik) — Earlier in the day, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said that Vienna planned to enhance control on the border with Italy amid fears that a new migrant influx may occur.

    "Following the statements made by the Austrian Government on the deployment of troops at the Brenner Pass, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ambassador Elisabetta Belloni, summoned the Austrian Ambassador in Rome, Dr. René Pollitzer, to the Ministry this morning," the ministry said in a statement.

    Austrian Defense Minister Hans Peter Doskozil told the Kronen Zeitung newspaper on Tuesday that the Austrian armed forces would be involved in a "support operation" to protect the country from the possible new migrant inflow.

    The media outlet said that Austria had deployed armored vehicles close to the Brenner Pass as well as up to 750 servicemen who are expected to be deployed to guard the border against migrants.

    In late June, Italy's authorities reportedly started considering that the country might be forced to shut its ports to foreign vessels, many of which disembark immigrants they pickup at sea. Italy's ambassador to the European Union, Maurizio Massari, described the situation as "unmanageable."

    Since 2015, Europe has been experiencing its worst migration crisis in recent history, struggling to accommodate hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants fleeing hostilities in the Middle Eastern and North African countries. The latest IOM figures indicate that over 100,000 arrivals were registered across the Mediterranean this year, compared to over 230,000 in the same period last year.


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