Eastern Europe closes ranks against refugee quotas
At their meeting in Prague on Friday the heads of government of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia once again rejected a quota system for taking in refugees. This stance is entirely understandable from an economic perspective, some commentators write. Others warn that the European states must finally admit that they too played a part in causing the migrant crisis.
How can those who have so little themselves help?
In view of their economic situation it is understandable that Hungary and other Eastern European states are refusing to open up their territory to refugees wanting to pass through on their journey elsewhere, the conservative Daily Telegraph points out: "Imagine if you were a poor householder, just managing to keep your financial head above water while you attempted to turn your circumstances around, and a very wealthy neighbour decided to throw open his doors to the needy - and one obvious way that those in need could reach that welcoming haven was by tramping through your house. Might you find yourself inclined to be unhelpful in the hopes of discouraging others from taking the same path?"
Admit partial responsibility for refugees' plight
Certain Eastern European states are shirking their responsibility in adopting such a restrictive stance vis-à-vis the refugees, the public broadcaster Deutschlandradio Kultur criticises: "Because these very countries took part in the operations in Iraq and Syria that were the original cause of the refugee crisis. Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Baltic states and first and foremost Britain were all among the political and military vassals of the US that went along with the foolhardy invasion of Iraq. But now they refuse to face up to the disastrous consequences - the destabilisation and destruction of an entire region. ... If the governments in question fail to come to their senses and reverse their stance a new rift will open up between the old and the new Europe that will be even harder to patch up than the last one."
Blockade stance Eastern Europe's only response
The blockade stance of the Visegrád states is completely unrealistic, writes the liberal business daily Hospodářské noviny: "Building barriers, reinforcing fences, rejecting quotas! We cannot take in more refugees, we don't want to and we won't! No, no, no! Do these countries with their monotonous naysaying really prefer to observe the situation from afar or blame others, above all rich, old-fashionably humanitarian Germany? The Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is the only one to have sought a positive approach according to which the EU should improve the situation in the countries of origin. A great idea, but unfortunately it lacks substance. How are they supposed to do that? With bombs and tanks? … While the Germans, with the Austrians' help, are taking on financial, logistic, political and moral obligations for the refugees from war zones, the Czech politicians are dreaming of an end to all wars on Earth. A noteworthy case of alibi politics."
Voluntary helpers more Christian than politicians
Fortunately many people in Eastern Europe are more sympathetic to the refugees' plight than their politicians, the liberal daily Sme writes: "It's incomprehensible that of all countries the Visegrád states, which still bear the scars left by years of bondage, have so little understanding for these people's desire to live in freedom. Cold-hearted shilly-shallying is their only response to one of the biggest humanitarian crises since World War II. But it's a different story altogether with the aid packages that the Slovakian people are bringing over the border to the refugees in Budapest or the main station in Vienna. They testify to a wave of humanitarian compassion. ... While the politicians are happy to pose as defenders of Christianity, the people are showing what Christianity really means. Let's hope the rest of the world judges our region not on the basis of what our politicians are saying but by what the people are doing to help when help is most urgently needed."