September 7, 2015 / 11:39 AM / 4 years ago

Slovak president urges government to show more solidarity on migrants

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - Slovak President Andrej Kiska urged his government to show more solidarity with European Union partners by agreeing to take in hundreds or thousands of the refugees and migrants streaming into the EU.

Prime Minister Robert Fico has dug in his heels against any quota system to redistribute some of the hundreds of thousands fleeing war or poverty in places such as Syria and Afghanistan.

This has led to a clash with Germany, France and other EU members. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is expected on Wednesday to propose to relocate 160,000 refugees from the main entry points of Italy, Greece and Hungary. Slovakia, with a population of around 5.4 million, would be asked to take in just under 2,300.

Kiska, a businessman who beat Fico in a presidential election last year but has fewer day-to-day powers than the prime minister, said accepting a few hundreds or thousands of migrants would not threaten Slovak security or culture.

“I consider it untenable that we are not prepared and able to understand our partners who are appealing for European solidarity by all the members of the Union,” Kiska said in a speech shown live on Slovak Television.

“Nobody who has a heart wants to stand by and watch that much human tragedy, suffering and death. Neither Europe as a whole, nor central Europe specifically, will benefit from reviving old divisions between old and new (EU) member states ... An agreement is in the interest of all.”

Fico said on Saturday that he had received intelligence that there were potential terrorists with links to the Islamic State militant group among the migrants.

Reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova; Writing by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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