“We were under the supervision of Moscow once,” recently remarked a prominent member of the Czech parliament. “Now a lot of people have the impression…that the same is happening in Brussels.”
The comment was just one example of a dramatic split in Europe, as the continent becomes increasingly divided over how to deal with the continuing migrant crisis. The largest influx of refugees since the Balkan wars of the 1990s, it has led the European Commission to considering allocating quotas of asylum seekers to each EU state, in order to redistribute 160,000 people who have arrived in Greece, Hungary, and Italy.
Support for accommodating migrants is concentrated in the continent’s western nations, with highly diverse societies and a recent history of support for new arrivals from former colonies. But in the east, former communist countries object to having policies imposed again upon them by others.
“We’re convinced that as countries we should keep control over the number of those we are able to accept and then offer them support,” Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek told reporters at a joint press conference with Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.
The countries known as the Visegrad Four feel that distribution of migrants should take place on a voluntary basis. They have also demanded better protection of the borders of the Schengen Area (the zone inside the European Union where travelers move across borders without any passport controls), more defenses against smugglers, and a streamlined process for returning refugees to their country of origin.
The problem is not going away anytime soon. Almost 340,000 migrants and refugees have been spotted at the borders of the European Union since January, according to border agency Frontex, travelling through Hungary and Austria into Germany. With a location adjacent to the Balkan peninsula—itself a gateway to Turkey—and passport-free travel to the rest of Europe, Hungary is particularly attractive to tens of thousands migrants from the Middle East and beyond.
Despite the complaints from Hungary and the rest of the Visegrad Four, the reality is that migrants from poor or conflict-ridden countries in the Middle East use the eastern European nations mostly as transit countries on their way to wealthier states. From the perspective of the eastern countries, this is as it should be: in their eyes, they bear no responsibility for the situation that has led to the migrant crisis in the first place.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico claimed that his country had “absolutely nothing” to do with the destabilized condition in parts of the Middle East. “Have we bombed Libya? Have we liquidated the regime in Iraq? Did we destabilise the situation in Syria? Do we have any relation to these territories? We bear no responsibility for the current situation of these countries. We cannot thus accept somebody making us to take care of people.”
Via:: American Conservative
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