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05/12/2016

Fico: EU’s migration policy is ‘ritual suicide’

Central Europe

Fico: EU’s migration policy is ‘ritual suicide’

The European Union is committing a “ritual suicide” with its migration policy, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said today (26 January), urging the 28-member bloc to stop the inflow of migrants fast.

“I feel that we in the EU are now committing ritual suicide and we’re just looking on,” the 51-year-old social democrat known for his anti-immigrant rhetoric told Czech newspaper Pravo.

Fico, whose party is expected to win a general election in March, said the EU should first of all stop the influx of “illegal migrants”.

“If it takes until late 2016 or 2017 for Europe to set up its planned border and coastguard force, the EU will have killed itself,” Fico said, adding that Slovakia had 300 police officers ready to deploy at the external borders of the passport-free Schengen area.

“We often stew in our own juices, tackling quotas which are nonsense… and in the meantime several thousand migrants arrive in Europe every day,” the premier said.

Slovakia, a eurozone member of 5.4 million people, has filed a lawsuit against the EU-proposed quota system for distributing migrants across the continent, just like neighbouring Hungary.

>>Read: Slovakia takes EU to court over migrant quotas

Fico said the system had turned out “a complete fiasco” and that thousands of migrants distributed according to quotas were impossible to integrate in Slovakia.

>>Read: Slovak PM: ‘It’s impossible to integrate Muslims’

“If, based on temporary or permanent quotas, someone forces us to import 50,000 people with completely different habits and religions — and these are mostly young men — I can’t imagine how we could integrate them. We can’t,” he stated.

“They would end up in a space with its own life and its own rules, and this is why I’m saying this idea is wrong and unfeasible.”

Slovakia has only agreed to voluntarily accept 180 Christian Syrian refugees. Even though they are already in Slovakia, their placement with families willing to shelter them in various villages in Slovakia has been postponed, due to the opposition of the local communities.

>>Read: Commission frowns on ‘Christian only’ solidarity with migrants

Looming elections, and EU presidency

The general elections in Slovakia will be held on 5 March. Fico’s governing party scores high in approval rates, around 40%, and its support has increased since the start of the refugee crisis. One of the main campaign messages of Smer-SD is “We protect Slovakia”. The only intrigue in the elections is whether Smer-SD would need a coalition partner or whether it will again be able to form a government alone.

The Party of European Socialists (PES), of which Fico’s party is a member, has recently discussed some of Fico’s earlier rhetoric against refugees, and his legal action against the relocation scheme in an internal meeting. So far, no decision on a possible suspension of membership has been taken.

>>Read: Robert Fico: Anti-refugee, pro-Russian headache for the Socialists

Guillaume Balas, a French Socialist MEP, recently criticised Sergei Stanishev, the leader of the centre-left political family for being too lax on Fico.

>>Read: French MEP: Stanishev is a ‘problem’ for European Socialists

Slovakia will hold the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU from 1 July.