Austria: Short criticizes private maritime rescue

The Austrian Chancellor and current EU Council President Sebastian Kurz has massively criticized private maritime rescuers on the Mediterranean. "It can not be that a few non-governmental organizations counteract the clear objective of the 28 Heads of State and Government in Europe, not only with the aim of saving lives, but to bring people together with the smugglers to Central Europe," said Kurz the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.
            In particular, the ship Aquarius 2, run by Doctors Without Borders and SOS Méditerranée, was a particular highlight. "What should not happen is what ships like the Aquarius 2 are constantly trying to get into or around the Libyan Sea Rescue Zone to forestall the Libyan Coast Guard, which is an absurd situation," Kurz said. If not European ships but Libyan or Egyptian people would save people, such complex legal issues would not arise.
            Libya set up its own maritime rescue zone off its coast in June. The area also includes international waters outside the Libyan maritime border. Previously, Italy had served the area.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini had denied Aquarius access to Italian ports in June after the ship had taken 629 migrants on board Libya. Malta also closed its ports. Only after two days Spain agreed to accept the migrants. Some of them applied for asylum in France.
            The ship was under the flag of Gibraltar under the name of Aquarius until mid-August, until the Overseas Territory cleared it from the ship's register. Afterwards, the activists continued the mission under the flag of Panama. The authorities there have also announced their intention to lift the authorization after the Italian authorities have lodged a complaint.