President Kiska: I am sure Slovakia can help migrants

PRESIDENT Andrej Kiska has missed one vital aspect in the ongoing discussion on the migrant crisis - whether Slovakia is ready to lend a helping hand on a voluntary basis and on its own initiative as well as whether or not it will later be able to provide housing or education to migrants, the TASR newswire reported on September 17. 

President Andrej Kiska being visited by Asylum seekers and foreigners with Slovak citizenshipPresident Andrej Kiska being visited by Asylum seekers and foreigners with Slovak citizenship (Source: Sme)

Kiska was speaking after receiving several families of foreign nationals who have been living in Slovakia for some time in order to discuss their motivations for resettling.

“Once the initial distrust was overcome, they realised that Slovakia is inhabited by people with good hearts,” said Kiska, as quoted by TASR. “I’m convinced that when it comes to the state as well as to thousands of individuals and also organisations, we’re ready and able to help. But we need to make sure that it doesn’t evolve into a major theme of the election campaign.”

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The meeting included Mohammad Azim Farhadi, who fled Afghanistan 17 years ago and, after a stopover in Russia, made it to Slovakia, where he studied journalism and was later granted Slovak citizenship. He was the last member of his immediate family to remain in Afghanistan before eventually leaving the country, as his closest relatives had followed his sister in escaping to Germany from the violence unleashed by the Taliban. He was only 16 years old when he was drafted against his will into military service.

“The state [Afghanistan] needed young people, nobody cared about just how young you were. They drafted us based on whether we had hairs on our legs or not,” he told TASR. With three of his peers he escaped from Kabul after the Taliban took over the Afghan capital.

Farhadi noted that he has never been attracted to western European countries; instead, he was drawn to the Balkan countries and eastern Europe. He had learnt about Slovakia from a neighbour of his - a Slovak diplomat, who then helped him to relocate to Slovakia.

“She was like my second mother, she helped me so much,” he said, as quoted by TASR.

While keeping in touch with some of his extended family who have stayed in Afghanistan, he says that he has already grown accustomed to living in Slovakia.

“Whenever I’m away, I miss Slovakia,” he said, as quoted by TASR.

That said, he expressed his understanding for migrants who are seeking to relocate to western Europe. He pointed to several Afghans who have been living in permanent uncertainty in Slovakia for six or seven years, wondering whether or not their residency will be extended by another year.

“[This is] unlike the situation in western countries, where once you receive the right of residence, you can build a future there unless you commit an offence,” Faradi said, as quoted by TASR.

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