Visegrad Group boycotts EU mini-summit on migration

Visegrad Group boycotts EU mini-summit on migration
By Daniel Bellamy with Reuters
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Visegrad Group boycotts EU mini-summit on migation.


The anti-immigrant leaders of four central European states said on Thursday they would boycott an EU mini-summit on migration, taking a veiled swipe at

Germany's Angela Merkel by accusing countries of pushing the issue for domestic political reasons.

Hungary's nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban hosted a meeting of the "Visegrad 4" former Communist countries, with the leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

They confirmed they would not attend the migration mini-summit on Sunday at which Merkel is seeking backing for measures she hopes will satisfy coalition partners who have demanded the EU do more to share the burden of hosting asylum seekers.

They were joined by Austria's Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose government includes the far right and shares some of its central European neighbours' positions on immigration although he has not joined their boycott of the summit on Sunday.

The four eastern EU states strongly oppose calls from western counterparts for all member states to accept quotas of asylum seekers.

The issue has come to a head this week because coalition partners in Merkel's German government have vowed to take new steps to keep out asylum seekers unless the bloc does more to share the burden.

Ten EU countries are attending the mini-summit on Sunday, including Italy and Greece, where most migrants first arrive, and richer countries further north where many have sought to stay.

"We understand there are domestic political difficulties in some countries but that cannot lead to pan-European haste," Orban said. "We understand that there a mini-summit on Sunday but we would like to state clearly that the prime ministers of V4 agreed that they will not go to that."

The Hungarian leader said Europe should focus on issues related to migration where an agreement could be reached, such as the defence of borders and the creation of migrant camps outside the EU. "Where there is no agreement, there is no point in forcing those issues," Orban said.

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