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World News \ Europe

Visegrad Group Nations Seeking To Close Balkans To Refugees

Refugees, aboard a train that would take them towards Serbia  - AP

Refugees, aboard a train that would take them towards Serbia - AP

15/02/2016 17:44

(Vatican Radio) Four Central and Eastern European nations are discussing a controversial plan to close off Macedonia's and Bulgaria's borders with Greece to migrants fleeing war and poverty. The plan promoted by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor  Orbán is being discussed at a summit of leaders of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia known as the Visegrad Group.

Listen to Stefan Bos' report

The 25th anniversary meeting of the Visegrad Group in Prague is overshadowed by the mini-bloc's concern about the influx of refugees into Europe. That's why the Visegrad countries are set to call for the closure of the Balkan route to refugees traveling to Western Europe.

If it's up to Hungarian right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán more razor wire fences will be build on Macedonia's and Bulgaria's borders with Greece. "Greece is unable to protect Europe from the south. This is why we Hungarians suggest to draw a new line of defense," he said. "At the Bulgarian-Greek and Macedonian-Greek border. And from this line of defense we ensure the security of the continent."     

He and other Visegrad leaders are also ready to help boost border security, an issue that was expected to be raised during their separate talks with officials from Macedonia and Bulgaria.


European Union officials have expressed frustration that the Visegrad countries who benefited greatly from EU subsidies and freedom of movement for their own citizens now balk at requests to accept even small numbers of refugees.

Luxembourg's Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn mad clear he hopes the regional grouping would "not become becoming a dissenting bloc within the EU." He warned "a debate could be launched that everyone who experiences solidarity from Brussels should also express solidarity with others."   

The Visegrad nations maintain it is impossible to integrate Muslims into their societies, often describing them as security threats. So far Poles, Czechs and Slovaks have only accepted small numbers of refugees, primarily Christians from Syria.

Yet, several Western leaders accuse them of xenophobia and hypocrisy, saying huge numbers of Poles, Hungarians and other Eastern Europeans have received refuge and economic opportunity in the West for decades.

15/02/2016 17:44