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Slovakian PM seeks emergency EU summit

January 8, 2016

Robert Fico has called for an extraordinary EU summit to tackle the growing influx of migrants across Europe's borders. His proposal follows the sexual assaults in Cologne and elsewhere on New Year's Eve.

Slovakei Premier Robert Fico
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Lecocq

Fico said on Friday that the EU must move faster to strengthen the bloc's borders in the wake of reports of mass sexual assaults possibly carried out by asylum-seekers on New Year's Eve in Cologne and other European cities.

"I call on the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, to look into accelerating the decision on putting in place a European coastguard and border guard corps," Fico told reporters.

He said the current timetable, which would see the creation of a new European security force sometime around autumn, wasn't realistic given the circumstances, saying that leaders had to act before even more migrants poured across the border.

'Trivializing' the risks

Fico criticized many of his domestic opponents, saying he was "surprised to see the leaders of the opposition continue to trivialize - even after the attacks in Cologne and other European cities - the security risks associated with unregulated and uncontrolled migration within the EU."

Slowakei Bratislava Premier Robert Fico Polizei
Prime Minister Fico surrounded by policeImage: Imago/Xinhua

Reports emerged of mass sexual assaults committed by men of Arab or North African appearance in the German city of Cologne on New Year's Eve. The case in Cologne has put particular pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel, who critics accuse of an existing open-door policy, although Germany reintroduced random checks on its border with Austria in September, following a period of effective amnesty from typical EU asylum rules over the summer.

Cologne's police chief, Wolfgang Albers, was suspended on Friday amid criticism of the authorities' inability to prevent the assaults. Albers also allegedly withheld information from the public in relation to the case.

Tone sharpens

On Thursday, Fico said he would make a concentrated effort to prevent Muslim migrants from entering his country. "We don't want something like what happened in Germany taking place in Slovakia," he said.

He went on to call multi-culturalism "a fiction," saying that he would "never make a voluntary decision that would lead to the formation of a unified Muslim community in Slovakia."

Slovakia, a Catholic country of 5.4 million people with little experience dealing with immigrants, also broadly shielded from immigration during its time within the former Soviet Union, is being asked to take in 802 migrants under the European Commission's distribution plan. Fico's government has filed a lawsuit in response to the plan.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka came out on Friday and said he supported Fico's proposal.

blc/msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)