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Austria Warns Kosovars Against Trying To Seek Asylum

The Austrian government has published an appeal in Kosovo's largest daily newspaper warning Kosovars against trying to seek asylum in Austria.

The full-page advertisement published on February 20 in Koha Ditore said: "Smugglers are lying. There will be no asylum for economic reasons in Austria."

The appeal also said that under Austrian law, illegal immigrants risk fines of up to $8,500.

Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia seven years ago, has seen a sharp rise in the number of its citizens paying smugglers to try to cross illegally into the European Union through Serbia in order to flee poverty and unemployment.

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, speaking in Pristina on February 20, said the government in Vienna is planning to send back Kosovar asylum seekers on charter flights every two weeks.

Germany also has taken action recently by sending border officials to help patrol the frontier between Serbia and EU-member Hungary.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, dpa

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