BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - The European Union will either manage to get migration under control this year or it will collapse, Prime Minister Robert Fico wrote in an article published on Tuesday.
Leftist Fico has long held a tough anti-immigration stance and made tackling the flow of refugees the main platform of his campaign for Slovakia’s March 5 parliamentary election.
“To overlook growing tension, nervousness and fear among people of the fact that EU does not have a real solution to the migration crisis while the migration wave continues ... could have catastrophic consequences,” Fico wrote in business daily Hospodarske Noviny.
“Whether someone likes it or not, 2016 will be the year when the EU will either get the migration crisis under control or collapse.”
Fico has argued for beefing up EU border protection, and his government filed a lawsuit against a European Union decision to redistribute 160,000 asylum seekers among member countries.
He has linked the influx of migrants into the bloc to the November attacks in Paris and violence on New Year’s Eve in Cologne, Germany, and has called multiculturalism “a fiction”.
His immigration stance resonates with voters in Slovakia, a Catholic country of 5.4 million with a largely homogenous society and next to no experience of accommodating immigrants.
Fico’s statements come ahead of next week’s meeting of the Visegrad group of central European countries and an EU summit that will tackle the migration crisis.
The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland have together taken a tough stance on migration and been at odds with western EU neighbours in dealing with an influx of migrants that topped 1 million last year.
Most migrants head to richer EU countries such as Germany, so the number entering central European states has been low.
Reporting By Tatiana Jancarikova; editing by Dominic Evans