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No German – no money: Austria to fine refugees for refusal to integrate


Refugees who refuse to attend special integration training courses in Austria as a part of a new program may see their social benefits cut, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said.

“Those who are not willing to learn German, who do not want to be part of the labor market, who are not ready to attend an integration course, will face social benefits cuts,” Kurz said at the economic forum in Davos, adding that “it is an absolutely necessary next step.”

“The migrant inflow should be reduced but those, who do have the right to get asylum, should be integrated into society,” the minister added.

His words were reiterated by Markus Wallner, the head of Austria’s western Vorarlberg region. “Here can eventually be no avoidance behavior. Specifically, if someone avoids attending the values training course, [his] social benefits should be reduced,” he said, as quoted by Austrian public broadcaster ORF.

Eight-hour ‘value and orientation’ training courses aimed at teaching refugees Austrian laws and social norms are a part of the broader integration program developed and agreed by the government and the heads of the Austrian regions on January, 20. The first courses providing places for 400 refugees each will start in February with the program envisaging two courses to be held each month.

The courses will cover the basic values embodied in the country’s constitution, equal rights and equal treatment of men and women as well as other democratic principles. The courses


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