Nearly two-thirds of Czechs oppose taking in war refugees

World Monday 15/February/2016 21:54 PM
By: Times News Service
Nearly two-thirds of Czechs oppose taking in war refugees

Prague/Budapest: About two out of three Czechs oppose taking in refugees from war zones, according to an opinion poll published on Monday, reflecting growing anti-migrant sentiment in a country that has taken a tough stance on migrants and refugees.
Central European nations have opposed quotas for sharing asylum-seekers among European Union members, and Czech President Milos Zeman is one of many leaders to have used anti-migrant rhetoric.
The latest monthly survey by the Czech Public Opinion Research Centre found 65 per cent of Czechs were against taking in war refugees, up from 50 per cent in September.
Another 28 per cent said refugees should only be accepted until they can return home.
More than 1 million refugees and migrants crossed into Europe last year, most of them fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Zeman has limited policymaking power but has said integration of Muslim communities in the country of 10.5 million is "practically impossible" and called the influx an "organised invasion".
He has also said that migrants would impose their extremist laws.
His comments have drawn criticism from the government as well as the UN
human rights chief.
Meanwhile, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on Monday that the European Union's policy on the migration crisis had failed and underlined that Hungary would not accept a distribution of refugees by national quota.
"Brussels wants to let in ... it wants to transport illegal migrants into the territory of the EU ... and then distribute them in a mandatory way," Orban told parliament.
"This is Brussels' crisis management plan of Brussels ... the Hungarian government does not accept this plan."
Orban said the migration pressure would only increase in 2016 and that Europe was "defenceless and weak".
The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland were set meet in Prague on Monday to discuss the crisis before an European Union leaders' summit at the end of the week.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Sunday the countries - known collectively as the Visegrad group - were ready to help Balkan countries seal their borders with Greece to stem the flow, raising objections from Germany.
The leaders of Bulgaria and Macedonia will also attend the Prague meeting.
Sobotka said he would discuss the plans with the Greek foreign minister on Tuesday.
Germany believes sealing Balkan borders with Greece could undermine its approach, which focuses on making an agreement with Turkey to control the migrant flow work and would lead to an accumulation of refugees in Greece, a country already under huge strain.