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Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria vow to “keep borders open until last possible moment”

Bratislava, Slovakia – The Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia have vowed not to impose travel restrictions and to keep their mutual borders open as long as possible, the countries’ respective leaders announced on Wednesday.

Slovak Prime Minister Igor Matovic and Czech Premier Andrej Babis met with their Austrian counterpart, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, in Vienna yesterday, for talks under the so-called Slavkov format, an informal platform launched five years ago to boost cooperation between the three Central European neighbours.

The COVID-19 pandemic evidently dominated the discussions, as all three countries are experiencing a sharp rise in the number of daily cases. Migration, relations with China and Brexit were among the other topics discussed by Babis, Matovic and Kurz in Vienna.

The three leaders said they were not planning to impose any travel restrictions for the time being, and would strive to “keep the borders between our countries open until the last possible moment”, in the words of Slovak PM Igor Matovic.

The situation is particularly delicate considering the high number of commuters and cross-border workers between Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, who were forced to close down their mutual borders last spring.

During the press conference the three EU leaders held after their meeting, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz also urged for a better coordinated approach at the EU level.

“We urgently expect a Europe-wide coordinated approach”, he said, as EU member states face the challenges posed by a second wave but remain reluctant to impose nation-wide lockdowns as they did in the spring.

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