Slovakia might veto migrant quotas in EU vote

SEEKING to solve the current crisis connected with the influx of refugees from the war-torn Middle East, the European Commission will hold a vote on September 14 about the plan to re-distribute migrants according to obligatory quotas among member states. 

Slovak PM Robert Fico (l) and Interior Minister Robert KaliňákSlovak PM Robert Fico (l) and Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák (Source: TASR)

Slovakia and other central-European countries may veto the proposal.

The vote will take place as part of the European Union’s summit of interior and justice ministers. Slovakia and its Visegrad Four (V4) partners – the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland – have expressed their opposing stance on this issue and may vote against the quotas programme. However, even if the V4 countries vote against it, their veto may be overrun as things stand now, the Sme daily wrote on the day when the vote is to take place. To pass the plan of quotas – which would bring 2,287 refugees to Slovakia – a mere qualified majority is needed.

At this summit, Slovakia will veto the findings and decisions of the European Commission concerning the introduction of a system of obligatory quotas for migrants, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico said for the TA3 news channel. He also expressed this stance on Sunday, September 13, at his meeting with the head of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, according to Sme.

The European Union does not want to convene an extraordinary summit on the migrant crisis because it's afraid of the truth, as some countries support civil war in Syria, Fico added. The migration crisis is the biggest crisis since WWII and the power to make decisions on it should not be reserved just for bureaucrats in Brussels.

“Why do they refuse to convene a summit?” he asked. “They don’t want one because they’re afraid of the truth. They don’t want to hear about EU member states that support the civil war in Syria, the place from which a great number of people coming to Europe originate. They don’t want the summit because they would have to listen to the truth about how Libya was bombarded by Italian, French and Spanish jet fighters,” the prime minister summed up.  Another reason for the EU’s alleged reluctance to convene a summit is its difficulty in arriving at unanimous decisions.

The Slovak government does not expect any decision on the mandatory migrant resettlement quotas to be reached at the EU summit, as Slovakia is determined to exercise its right to veto, Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák told viewers of the public TV channel RTVS’ political talk show “O 5 minút 12” (Five Minutes to Twelve) on September 13. “I have a mandate – not only from the government but also parliament – to veto any and all proposals promulgating the quotas because not only are they senseless, but they’re also directed against migrants while falling short of tackling the crisis in any way,” he said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Any constructive decision might be passed only if there is a willingness to also listen to arguments from central-European countries, a development that Kaliňák considers unlikely given that the EU has failed to convene a summit of prime ministers on the issue. He added that quotas will not save migrants, and that the EU should concede that the current migration wave heading to Europe through the Balkans is illegal and should devote more effort to protecting the EU’s external borders, as Slovakia does. 

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