The Latest: Slovak leader says migrants can’t be integrated
OSLO, Norway (AP) — The latest on the stream of refugees and other migrants crossing Europe. All times local:
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico says his government will not allow Muslims to create “a compact community,” and says that integrating refugees is impossible.
Slovakia has a tiny Muslim community of several thousand.
Fico’s government filed a legal challenge last month to a mandatory plan by the European Union to distribute migrants among members of the bloc.
Fico said Thursday his government sees what he calls a “clear link” between the waves of refugees and the Paris attacks and the sexual assaults and robberies during the New Year’s Eve festivities in Germany.
He says: “We don’t want what happened in Germany to happen here.”
Fico says “the idea of multicultural Europe has failed” and that “the migrants cannot be integrated, it’s simply impossible.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is telling European allies the continent’s open-borders system can only work if others share responsibility for the migrant crisis.
Germany registered nearly 1.1 million people as asylum-seekers last year and Sweden also took in large numbers. But Merkel has made little headway in persuading many other European Union members to share the burden of people seeking safety and a better life.
Merkel said after meeting her Romanian counterpart Thursday: “I don’t want to make any concrete threats here ... but I would like to say that a Schengen (border-free travel) system can only work if joint responsibility is taken for refugees and joint responsibility is taken for protecting external borders.”
Germany is among several countries that have introduced temporary checks on borders with other EU nations.
Finnish officials say the number of asylum-seekers arriving in the country last year was nearly 10 times greater than in 2014.
Immigration officials said Thursday 32,478 people sought shelter in the Nordic nation in 2015 in comparison to 3,651 in 2014.
More than 20,000 people were Iraqis, followed by migrants from Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria.
Spokeswoman Verna Leinonen from The Finnish Migration Service says the number of asylum-seekers arriving in the country of 5.5 million had hovered between 3,000 and 5,000 in the previous decade.
Finnish immigration officials said earlier this week that recent measures by neighboring Sweden and Denmark to tighten border controls have substantially decreased the number of arrivals.
The Swedish government has extended temporary border controls by a month until Feb. 8.
Sweden reintroduced the border controls in November and has extended them several times in a bid to stem the flow of migrants entering the country from Denmark and Germany. Sweden received more than 160,000 asylum-seekers last year.
The countries of the visa-free Schengen Zone aren’t supposed to have any internal border controls but member states can temporarily reintroduce them if they face threats to public order or security.
The government said Thursday that “the conditions on which the earlier decisions were taken still apply.”
As of this week, the government is also requiring companies providing ferry, train or bus service from neighboring countries to check the IDs of all passengers heading to Sweden.
The European Union says Turkey is not doing enough to halt the flow of migrants as countries in northern Europe tighten border controls in an effort to manage the arrivals.
European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans said on Thursday that arrivals into Europe from Turkey “have remained relatively high, so there is still a lot of work to do there.”
He told reporters in Amsterdam that “we are a long way from being satisfied.”
Turkey agreed in November to do more to stem the flow of migrants into Greece in exchange for billions of euros in refugee aid money, an easing of visa restrictions and the fast-tracking of its EU membership process.
A top German interior ministry official said Wednesday that some 3,200 people are arriving in Germany each day and that numbers have not declined.
A spokeswoman for Poland’s border guards says 30 Polish guards have left for Slovenia to help tighten its border with Croatia.
Agnieszka Golias told The Associated Press on Thursday that the guards are being sent at Slovenia’s request. Together with Slovenian police they will be patrolling the border in the Brezice region, connected by major road and railway routes with Croatia’s capital, Zagreb.
Their mission will run through Feb. 4 and their task will be to prevent migrants from making illegal crossings, surveying spots where such crossings occur, and they will support local police in maintaining order in the area.
Norwegian immigration officials say 31,145 people applied for asylum in the country last year, almost three times as many as in 2014.
Presenting the statistics on Thursday, the Norwegian Directorate of Immigration said one-third of the asylum-seekers were Syrians. The second biggest group was Afghans, followed by Iraqis and Eritreans.
The agency said just over half of the asylum-seekers were adult men, 15 percent were adult women and 33 percent were minors.
About 5,300 of the minors were unaccompanied, most of them from Afghanistan.
Officials project that up to 60,000 people could apply for asylum in Norway, one of Europe’s richest countries, in 2016.
Neighboring Sweden received nearly 163,000 asylum-seekers last year.
The item timed at 12:45 p.m. has been corrected to note that that the removal of border controls relates to the Schengen Zone, not the European Union.