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Austrian chancellor pledges to reduce tensions during its EU Presidency

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Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Saturday said that Austria wants to be "bridge builder" in order to reduce the "tensions" in the European Union during its rotating EU Presidency starting from July 1.

As a "bridge-builder", we want to make sure that the EU is strong, Kurz said at the opening ceremony of the Austrian EU Presidency in the Alpine town of Schladming, together with current EU Presidency Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and European Council President Donald Tusk.

"We want to create a Europe that protects," he said, reiterating the motto of Austria presidency "A Europe that protects".

Austria lies in the heart of Europe and is a key bridge-builder, Tusk said. He wished Kurz a success for the whole of Europe.

Immigration and securing EU external borders are Austria's priorities for the presidency. Kurz said in March when outlining Austria's priorities for the presidency that EU should shift its focus away from resettling refugees towards securing external borders.

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