The leader of the European Parliament’s Socialists & Democrats group has called for the suspension of the Slovak delegation, following the controversial statements of Prime Minister Robert Fico. EURACTIV France reports.
Gianni Pittella, the head of the S&D group in the European Parliament, on Wednesday (23 September) asked for Robert Fico’s SMER party to be suspended from the Party of European Socialists (PES).
“The position made clear by Robert Fico […] has embarrassed the whole Progressive family,” the leader of the S&D group said at a PES summit in Brussels on 23 September. Among his controversial statements on the refugee crisis, Robert Fico has said that the “mass migration of Muslim immigrants who would start to build mosques will not to be tolerated”, and called for the “restriction of the freedom of Muslims in Europe”.
Gianni Pittella also described Robert Fico’s assertion that “Slovakia is built for Slovaks, not for minorities” as an “embarrassment” for his political family.
The Slovakian premier has attracted attention in recent weeks for his unwavering opposition to the refugee distribution system and a number of controversial statements on the refugee crisis, notably that his country would only accept Christian refugees.
After EU member states accepted a distribution plan for 120,000 refugees, despite heavy opposition from a number of Eastern European countries, Robert Fico announced that he would fight the decision at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
“The persistent unwillingness to take responsibility and show solidarity in the framework of the refugee crisis contrasts with our values and political convictions,” said Gianni Pittella.
The Slovakian SMER party had already been suspended from the PES in 2006 due to its association with “extreme nationalists”. It was then re-integrated into the party in 2008.
The Orbán case
The Socialists are not alone in facing severe differences of opinion from some of their affiliated heads of government. Within the European People’s Party, Viktor Orbán has also put the unity of Europe’s centre right under strain.
While the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has thrown the doors of her country wide open to Syrian refugees, the Hungarian leader, a member of the same political family, recently passed a law allowing him to deploy the army to protect the country’s border and authorised the use of non-lethal weapons against refugees.
In response to this latest contravention of European values by Hungary, the European Parliament’s liberal ALDE group, along with French Socialist MEPs, demanded that the Parliament invoke Article 7 of the Lisbon Treaty and suspend some of Hungary’s rights in the EU.