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Slovakia respects European Union court ruling on refugees, position unchanged - PM

07 September 2017, 02:03 | Jermaine Blake

Slovakia respects European Union court ruling on refugees, position unchanged - PM

Slovakia respects European Union court ruling on refugees, position unchanged - PM

The European Court of Justice has dismissed a legal action by Hungary and Slovakia that challenged a European Union policy requiring them to accept refugees.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called the court ruling "outrageous and irresponsible".

Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico stressed the fact that the migration mechanism expires on September 26, because it was meant as temporary.

"This decision jeopardises the security and future of all of Europe", he told a press conference, adding that the decion was political.

The Czech Republic and Romania have also voiced criticisms of the plan, but only Slovakia and Hungary took legal action. Hungary and Poland have not accepted any migrants within the mechanism, while the Czech Republic stopped accepting refugees in August 2016.

"This absolutely does not change the position of the Polish government with respect to migration policy", she said.

Slovakia respects European Union court ruling on refugees, position unchanged - PM
Slovakia respects European Union court ruling on refugees, position unchanged - PM

The court "observes in particular that the small number of relocations so far carried out under the contested decision can be explained by a series of factors that the Council could not have foreseen at the time when the decision was adopted, including, in particular, the lack of cooperation on the part of certain Member States", it said.

While Brussels has insisted the move is necessary to help deal with the 1.6 million people who arrived in Greece and Italy since 2014, the countries say it is not their responsibility. Hungary has admitted none, but Slovakia has taken in a handful. "Few E.U. member states have actually met their relocation quota, and most were just a lot more passive about it". The decision is also likely to be welcomed by other countries such as Greece and Sweden, where the sheer volume of new arrivals threatens to overwhelm the system.

The case has highlighted a deep divide in the European Union as it has fumbled for a joint solution to the mass arrivals that have strained resources, roiled politics, and prompted outcries from human rights defenders who warn that the bloc risks violating global law on the treatment of refugees.

The group's European Union office director, Iverna McGowan, said that "Slovakia and Hungary have tried to dodge the EU's system for solidarity, but each country has a role to play in protecting people fleeing violence and persecution".

That tally is less than half the arrivals registered in the same period previous year, when 289,681 people arrived across the region through September 3, 2016, and 3,238 died at sea. More than 2,500 people have died on the Mediterranean journey, the group said.

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