Slovaks oppose accepting refugees

“FOR some reason some East European countries feel treated badly, and I need to understand why they react so strongly and are so tough on migrants,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel on October 16.

(Source: sme)

When it comes to Slovakia the latest EU poll showed that citizens remain unwilling to share the refugee burden with other member states and are unhappy that Brussels decided about it. The government’s policy comes as a reaction to such opinions in the lead-up to parliamentary elections in March 2016, according to analysts approached by The Slovak Spectator.

“Surely, Slovaks opinion is result of one-sided commenting of this issue by top Slovak political representatives,” psychologist Alena Chudžíková of Centre for Ethnic and Culture Research (CVEK) told The Slovak Spectator. “At the same time this shows that we have different values than older EU member states.”

The results showed that Slovaks are the least supportive (31 percent) of all 28 EU member countries of idea that asylum seekers should be better redistributed among EU-member states. As a whole, 78 percent of the EU population approves of it. Of the EU-wide 78 percent, almost 75 percent think that the measure should be carried out via mandatory quotas approved by the EU, whereas only 51 percent of the 31 percent of Slovaks who were in favour of redistribution supported obligatory quotas.

Read also:Survey: Slovaks are least supportive of migrant redistribution within EU Read more 

The survey was carried out between September 19-29 on a sample of 28,150 respondents from across the EU aged 15 and over.

Rejecting solidarity

Head of European Parliament Information Office in Slovakia Robert Hajšel pointed out that most of eastern EU countries oppose the relocation plan with exception of Hungary which reached EU’s average opinion in the survey.

“Hungary," which has experienced an influx of migrants first hand , "probably knows that it will not be able to face this challenge alone,” Hajšel told the press.

Regarding the priority  financial  support recently granted to member states bearing the brunt of migration on their coasts and at their borders, Slovakia has the fewest number of people (44 percent) thinking it is a good idea to contribute such funds, tied with with the Czech Republic. Generally, 62 percent of EU citizens think that it is "a good thing", 15 percent think that is "a bad thing", whereas 20 percent consider it "neither good nor bad".

When asked whether their country needs legal migrants, and in economic sectors in the current context in particular, Slovakia was also placed last. Only 19 percent of Slovaks agreed, as compared to 77 percent of Swedes and 72 percent of Germans. A similar outcome was produced when people were asked whether the presence of citizens from other EU-member states is advantageous for the economy. Slovakia along with Cyprus occupied last place with only 31 percent support . The EU average was 56 percent.

The poll results probably stem from Slovaks lack of experience with migrants and refugees, according to Chudžíková pointing out that since its origin in 1993 the country granted the asylum to just 650 people through April 2015. This situation however can easily change for example in case that conflict in Ukraine gets worse and more refugees will come from eastern border, she added.

“It can happen that we will need this solidarity as well,” Chudžíková said.

Denying Brussels

With respect to making decisions concerning migration, 66 percent of the respondents said that such decisions should be made at the European level, rather than at national levels. The figure was just 40 percent in Estonia, Poland and Slovakia.

On the other hand, in previous polls concerning trust in the EU Slovaks turned to be Euro-optimists. For example survey carried by TNS Slovakia agency in February 2012 on a representative sample of 977 respondents over the age of 15 showed that 65-percent of respondents trust the European Union, while one-third does not. Moreover some polls showed that Slovaks have more trust in EU than in their own government.

Slovaks are comfortable with being members of respected international organisations especially when they are source of money but this changes when those organisations want something from them, according to political analyst Alexander Duleba, the head of the Slovak Foreign Policy Association (SFPA).

However, the migrations crisis is European problem which means that it is also Slovak problem and such a small country as Slovakia will be always dependent on joint decisions within international organisations, according to Duleba.

“We don’t have national solutions, we have only European solutions,” Duleba told The Slovak Spectator.

Diplomatic mistake

Duleba went on that Slovakia stance towards quotas on migrants redistribution is a diplomatic mistake which makes the country an untrustworthy partner for other EU member states.

After the Justice and Home Affairs Council, which gathers interior ministers of the EU, passed the plan in a qualified majority vote on September 22 Prime Minister Robert Fico voiced his determination to challenge the introduction of the quota system to resettle refugees and refuse to follow agreed rules.

Read also:V4 united against quotas Read more 

 “I would rather go into infringement procedures than accept this dictate,” Fico said then.

If Fico holds those views he should create opposition against quotas and try to persuade as many member countries as possible to join him. When he failed to do so, he should obey democratically adopted rules and accept the quotas, according to Duleba.

“If all this situation was about the statement that we respect the decision of the Council but at the same time we want European Court to judge it, everything would be all right,” Duleba said. “But politics cannot be done through statements that no migrant will come based on quotas. European politics cannot be done in this way.”

Toeing the line

Even as opposing quotas and whole redistribution system of migrants Slovak government has done nothing so far which would violate EU’s plan and is actively selecting refugees which will accept. The first representative of the Slovak Migration Office began working in Italy October 14, according to European Commission.

“It seems that Slovakia fulfils the first steps of migrants redistribution process that the European Commission requires,” Andrej Králik of the EC Representation to Slovakia told the Slovak Spectator.

However, the Interior Ministry claims that representative’s task is to pick a portion of the 200 refugees whom the Slovak government is willing to accept voluntarily not part of the quota system. 

If the words and the steps of the cabinet are not in mutual harmony it spoils Slovakia’s image in EU, according to Duleba.

“I will say it clearly: the government acts in a way that it is few months before elections and all statements abroad are meant for domestic audience,” Duleba said. “Fico has a problem to convince the public that there are solutions beyond what the average Slovak thinks about.”

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