Saturday

16th Nov 2019

Slovak PM: Human rights are not a travel pass to EU

  • Fico (l) said there is no future for mandatory quotas in EU asylum policy (Photo: © European Union)

Slovakia's prime minister Robert Fico has said human rights do not give people fleeing Libya the right to enter the European Union.

"There is no human right to travel to the European Union and the European Union must protect itself," he told reporters at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday (14 December).

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He said the EU instead needed to shore up Libyan borders and that Slovakia, has offered, along with Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, some €35 million for the Italian-led effort.

"Libya also needs a lot of technical assistance, so this is our approach that we want to go to Libya, that we want to cooperate with Libyan authorities and we want to guarantee that borders are protected," he said.

He noted that Slovakia was willing to take in refugees but flat out rejected any EU proposal that would allocate a set quota of people to the country.

The €35 million was decided following a joint Visegrad letter to Italy's prime minister Paolo Gentiloni in July. The letter had asked what Italy needed or wanted.

Hungary, which presides over the Visegrad group, says the money is a demonstration of solidarity amid broader plans to tighten security and prevent people from entering the European Union in the first place.

"If necessary and helpful, we are ready to take part in the effective operational management of this whole thing," said Viktor Orban, Hungary's prime minister.

Speaking alongside EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker also on Thursday, Orban said the EU's migration policy has helped "defend outside borders".

Juncker said a meeting with the Visegrad in October was aimed at securing closer cooperation.

He described the financial contribution as proof "that the Visegrad countries are fully aligned when it comes to solidarity with Italy and with others."

The EU commission last week took the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to the EU's top court for having refused to participate in a 2015 scheme that relocated asylum seekers from Greece and Italy.

Italy's Gentiloni told reporters following the meeting with the Visegrad group that thier focus on border closures and walls within the EU still remained the wrong response.

"We think that the closures are wrong, the walls are wrong, the relocation of shares is the 'minimum wage' for the EU," he said.

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Divisions on relocating asylum seekers remain entrenched following an EU summit. The east-west divide opens up the possibility of relying on a majority vote for a key asylum in June, further exacerbating disputes among opposing capitals.

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Erdogan: refugees will enter Europe unless EU does more

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Greek migrant hotspot now EU's 'worst rights issue'

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As ex-national leaders, we know it's not easy to withstand public pressures and put collective interests ahead of domestic concerns. But without strong institutional leadership, EU values themselves risk ringing hollow, not least to those seeking protection on Europe's shores.

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