Days after a Hungarian referendum smacked down European Union (EU) migrant quotas, the rebellion against open borders and economic migration grows stronger in Europe.
Though the referendum is not technically valid due to insufficient voter participation, it passed with 98 percent approval, prompting Hungarian PM Viktor Orban to propose a constitutional amendment to stop refugee resettlement unless the National Assembly — Hungary’s parliament — approves.
And in the Czech Republic, President Milos Zeman is calling for the expulsion of all economic migrants, a number likely in the hundreds of thousands.
Zeman carefully emphasizes a difference between economic migrants and refugees of war, saying, “…I respect the cruelty of civil war in Syria, Iraq, and so on. But we do not speak about those people, we speak about economic migrants,” the Financial Times reports.
The Czech President also commented on conflicts between Europe and the Muslim world, saying, “I am only against Islamic migration, because I think there is full incompatibility of culture.”
Zeman is no stranger to this type of rhetoric. In August, he encouraged Czech citizens to arm themselves to defend against terrorism and spoke out against Islamic migration, saying it would “create fertile ground for barbaric attacks” and on another occasion calling Muslim migration an “organized invasion.” A German commissioner blasted Zeman for his views, saying that his hardline stance “weakens Europe.”
Not to be outdone by his peers, Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic is developing his own plan to deal with Muslim migration.
Nikolic warned that if EU member states close their borders, then Serbia will likely close its borders as well.
Serbia is not usually an end destination, but a middle country for the passage of migrants and refugees traveling from the Middle East to wealthier European Union countries, and yet, if many EU countries refuse migrants, many would become stranded in Serbia. Nikolic hopes to address this issue.
In 2015, Hungary constructed a fence at its border with Serbia to keep migrants out. This summer, it was reported that 1,300 migrants were stuck at the Serbia-Hungary border.
Many European leaders, like Orban, Zeman, and Nikolic, are likely to continue to advocate against Islamic migration, as a surge of Eurosceptic populism and anti-open borders politicians are gaining popularity in Europe.
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