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Saturday, 20 February 2016 07:40

Nearly Two-Thirds of Czechs Oppose Taking in War Refugees: Poll

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Nearly Two-Thirds of Czechs Oppose Taking in War Refugees: Poll

Approximately two out of three Czechs say taking in additional refugees from war zones including Syria is a mistake, according to a recent opinion poll that was published last week. The poll numbers reflect a rapidly growing anti-migrant sentiment in a country that took a tough stance on migrants and refugees since the inception of what many have said is the “worse refugee crisis” since World War II.

Other Central European nations have also been opposed to establishing quotas for sharing asylum-seekers among European Union members. Along with Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Czech President Milos Zeman is one of many leaders that have spoken out against allowing too many people into Europe that have not been properly screened for ties to terrorism or are merely “economic migrants” seeking better jobs and liberal welfare and social benefits in Europe.

This latest monthly survey conducted by the Czech Public Opinion Research Center, found 65 percent of Czechs opposed taking in war refugees. That percentage was up from 50 percent in September.

Another 28 percent said refugees should only be accepted until conditions improve and then they should return home.

It is widely estimated that over a million refugees and migrants made their way into Europe in 2015, many of them fleeing conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. However, it is also well-documented that other migrants arrived from countries where there was no conflict nor any reason to believe they were refugees fleeing oppression or terror in their native countries. North Africa, including Libya and Morocco and other parts of the Middle East and Eastern Europe have also been countries of origin during the migrant flows and most of them are seeking “better economic conditions,” according to United Nations studies.

The most welcoming nations have been the richer, northern EU members like Germany and Sweden but recent crime spikes, sexual attacks on women by migrants and economic demands by refugees for more help has produced a backlash of public opinion even in these Nations.

While most Baltic nations have suffered a disproportionate share of refugees entering the EU and while most of those insist they want to continue to migrate to the wealthier northern and western parts of the EU, in reality many have become stuck in limbo as their asylum claims are processed. And the Baltic nations say the rest of the EU is doing precious little to help them meet the demands the migrants are placing on their smaller, weaker economies.

In the Czech Republic, 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 "organized invasion".

He has also asserted that migrants want to impose sharia law, have practices stoning women to death for adultery and chopping thieves' hands off under their concepts of justice. While his comments have drawn criticism from more liberal elements in the government and the U.N. human rights chief, this latest poll clearly shows his policies line up with most Czech citizens.

The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland met in Prague on Monday and discussed the crisis leading into the European Union leaders' summit scheduled for the end of the week.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Sunday the countries - known together as the Visegrad group - were “ready to help Balkan countries seal their borders with Greece to stem the flow of mostly Muslim migrants.” His statements were met with objections from Germany who seeks the continued free admission of asylum seekers into the EU.

The leaders of Bulgaria and Macedonia will also be at the Prague meeting. Sobotka said he would discuss the plans with the Greek foreign minister on Tuesday and was confident that “more leaders in Europe are awakening to just how big a threat this massive migration is to our prosperity, security and culture”.

Except for Hungary, most of the other central European countries have so far not seen the sheer numbers of migrants that are overall present in the 22 member EU. However, they fear that could change if Europe's external borders stay open as they are now or if Germany - the main destination – decided to close its own borders.

“Who will take in these hordes if the richer nations close their doors, we can’t afford the policies of Germany, who really wants low cost workers or of Sweden with its oil based riches; we are a poorer country but with a people who want to maintain our culture and heritage,” said Hungary’s Orban at a recent rally.

Germany, on the other hand, believes sealing Balkan borders with Greece could undermine its approach to the crisis. The Teutonic state prefers to focus on making an agreement with Turkey to control the migrant flow. Otherwise, it fears a greater concentration of refugees will accumulate in Greece, a country already under huge burdens due to the disproportionate numbers in the Hellenic nation.

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