No refugees quotas
The system for distributing around 60,000 refugees among the EU states according to fixed quotas was rejected on Thursday. Above all Eastern European states opposed the plan at the EU summit in Brussels. Commentators criticise the Eastern Europeans' stance, pointing out that they fled their countries in the past. Others show sympathy for their objections to the plan.
Eastern Europeans forget their own refugee past
The Visegrad members Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are among the states that rejected a quota system for taking in refugees. The liberal daily Sme finds this stance unacceptable especially given that millions of people from these countries could count on the solidarity of others in the past: "About 6 million Poles left the country during the communist period. Though most went to Germany, about 150,000 of them sought and received asylum in the United States. About 500,000 Czechoslovakians fled the country and received asylum over the same period - largely in two concentrated waves after 1948 and 1968. Some 400,000 Hungarians emigrated during communism. ... It is true that the Visegrad countries are not common destinations for immigrants from outside of Europe. Receiving more would require a period of adjustment, but it's hard to believe the 785 refugees that Slovakia is being asked to take by the EC would be highly disruptive. ... This equates to 0.01 percent of the country's population. Fears surrounding this influx are unfounded and accepting more migrants from outside Europe would hardly turn Bratislava into Damascus."
Lacking solidarity endangers EU
By opposing refugee quotas, the countries of Eastern Europe in particular are forgetting their own history, the centre-left daily Delo comments: "The irony of history is that the most zealous fence builders come from those countries where an Iron Curtain prevented them from fleeing to a brighter future in the West. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has warned that the refugees could cause the collapse of the EU. However the real danger doesn't come from the refugees but from the member states' attitude toward them. And from the lack of solidarity with the countries which for geographical reasons are obliged to take in the most asylum seekers. Similarly, 77 years ago when the West successfully warded off the influx of Jewish refugees, it said that its countries were 'overcrowded' and abandoned the refugees to the Nazi butchers."
No wonder no one wants to help Italy
Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has accused the EU partners who opposed the introduction of a quota system of not showing solidarity. But Italy has only itself to blame for their reluctance to help, the liberal daily La Stampa contends: "Italy has used a strange method for registering refugees up to now. It was based on unwritten rules such as the right of the refugees to leave the reception centres and head for the Italian border. They were even given maps describing the route. … This worked like clockwork. ... The unilateral decision of our partners to close their borders may be debatable but in view of the recent revelations it is also entirely understandable. Because they no longer trust Italy and are not at all convinced that as of tomorrow we will be in a position to fulfil the registration obligation properly and make the distinction between refugees and illegal immigrants."
No one flees their country without having to
Helping people who risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean is the EU's duty, the liberal daily Kainuun Sanomat admonishes: "Tens of thousands of people who have left their homes are now holding out under varying conditions on the coast of Italy and Greece, among other places. Distributing these refugees among the EU states is a sign of solidarity among member countries, and a humane alternative for these people in need. ... In the long term the root causes for refugees and human smuggling must be fought. The humanitarian crisis will not be solved by turning back the rickety boats that cross the Mediterranean under the most precarious conditions. It must never be forgotten when discussing the asylum seekers that as a rule, humans only flee their homes when absolutely forced to do so. If someone gives everything they own to a human smuggler for a place on an unseaworthy boat, the conditions at home must indeed be unbearable."