Slovakian PM Refuses to Implement EU Refugee Quota Plan

Slovakian PM Refugee Quota Plan
A migrant boy sits on railway tracks at a train station in Tovarnik, Croatia, September 20. Antonio Bronic/Reuters

European governments' decision on Tuesday to overrule several European Union member states opposed to mandatory refugee quotas, and force through a deal that will see 120,000 asylum seekers resettled across the European Union over two years, has provoked an angry reaction from the Slovakian prime minister who told the parliament in Bratislava he would not implement the plan.

A tense summit between EU leaders dedicated to the greatest migration crisis to face Europe since World War II gets underway in Brussels on Wednesday, at the bequest of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia all voted against mandatory quotas, putting them at odds with Germany and France who are pushing for the resettlement scheme.

Poland, which had been opposed to the quotas in the run up to the vote, decided to side with the majority, prompting praise from the German interior minister on Twitter.

Slovakian PM Robert Fico
Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico arrives at the European Union (EU) Council headquarters at the start of an EU leaders summit in Brussels, Belgium, June 25. Darren Staples/Reuters

But the Slovakian prime minister, Robert Fico, threatened to defy the vote. "As long as I am prime minister, mandatory quotas will not be implemented on Slovak territory," Fico told MPs in Bratislava. The Czech and Hungarian governments have warned that the plan will not work, and that they will be unable to stop refugees trying to reach more popular destinations like Germany.

Slovakian Interior Ministry spokesman Ivan Metik said in August that the country would accept 200 refugees from camps in Turkey, Italy and Greece, but only Christians as it would be difficult for Muslims to integrate.

The Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec wrote on Twitter: "Very soon we will realise the emperor has no clothes. Today was a defeat for common sense."

Of the 120,000 to be divided between the remaining EU states from Italy and Greece, 66,000 will be shared initially and the rest a year later. However, according to the U.N., 480,000 migrants have arrived in Europe by sea this year, and are now reaching European shores at a rate of nearly 6,000 a day.

Britain has refused to take part in the quota scheme, promising to resettle 4,000 refugees taken directly from refugee camps in the Middle East this year and 20,000 over five years. The first such refugees arrived in the country yesterday.