Paris terrorist attacks: CEE leaders highlight migrant issue

In Central and Eastern Europe, a number of leaders have reacted to the November 13 Paris terrorist attacks by underlining their views that migrants streaming into Europe bear with them a security threat, and have announced stepped-up security measures.

Slovak prime minister Robert Fico said that “Islamic State” could infiltrate the numbers of migrants coming to Europe and said of the attacks, “hopefully, this will open some people’s eyes”.

Fico said that those who carried out the terrorist attacks in Paris either were radicalised French who reacted to the bombing of “Islamic State” by France, or terrorists who arrived within the migrant wave, local media reported.

“We have been saying for several months that the security risks linked to migration are huge,” Fico said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “We will only continue in everything we have done in this field. We can expect even bigger mobilisation of security forces.”

In response to the Paris terrorist attacks, the Slovak government adopted measures including more intensive controls at borders, at reception centres, at important strategic buildings and also at mass sport and cultural events, the Slovak Spectator reported.

Czech president Miloš Zeman said that a November 14 meeting of Czech National Security Council (BRS) board had agreed unanimously with the opinion that words should be turned into deeds and the protection of the EU border should be “really reinforced”
Zeman said he would call it expressively the “fortification of Europe”, the Prague Post reported.

Poland’s new minister of European affairs, Konrad Szymanski, who is to take office on November 16 along with the rest of the government formed by the Euroskeptic PiS party, said in reaction to the Paris attacks that Poland must retain full control over its borders, asylum and immigration.

Szymanski said that after the Paris attacks, Poland would no longer consider it necessary to respect the EU quotas on relocation of refugees. Poland would accept refugees only if it got “security guarantees,” he said.

“The European Council’s decisions, which we criticised, on the relocation of refugees and immigrants to all EU countries are part of European law,” adding, “after the tragic events of Paris we do not see the political possibility of respecting them.”

“The attacks mean the necessity of an even deeper revision of the European policy towards the migrant crisis,” Szymanski said.

In Hungary, the ruling Fidesz party cancelled a scheduled congress as the country declared a day of mourning over the Paris terrorist attacks.

The government headed by prime minister Viktor Orbán, who has long been sharply critical of the migrant wave and other European countries’ permissive approach, announced that after the Paris attacks, there would be new, stricter national border controls and a military presence on the streets of Hungarian cities.

Speaking after a November 14 emergency meeting of Hungary’s National Security Cabinet in Budapest, Orbán said, “Hungary’s defences must be increased and we must respond to these monstrous terrorist attacks”.

Hungary’s stepped-up measures include additional police on the streets of capital Budapest, at Liszt Ferenc international airport and the deployment of military police of Hungarian cities. Border controls are to be tightened and people arriving in Hungary by air or land will be subjected to more rigorous checks.

From Belgrade, Serbian prime minister Aleksandar Vucic sent a telegram of condolences to his French counterpart Manuel Valls, saying that the November 13 attacks had been “an attack on all of us”.

“We were appalled by the news of a series of terrorist attacks and deeply distressed over the death of such a big number of innocent people in Paris. This is an attack on all of us and all values of modern civilisation,” Vucic said, quoted by Serbian news website B92.

“We are a small country, we cannot help a lot, but if there is anything we can do, we will be there. We offer full support to the French people and government in combating the greatest plague of the modern world – terrorism,” Vucic said after signing a book of condolences at the French embassy in Belgrade.

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras said that the November 13 attacks in Paris had been “a blind but targeted hit. It was an attack on the Europe of Democracy and freedom. A hit on Europe of multiculturalism.

“This hour we join all our forces, strengthen our solidarity with the French people and stand by the French government.vWe stand as an obstacle to the plans of the terrorists and barbarism,” Tsipras said, the Independent Balkan News Agency reported.

“Terrorists will beat us if they manage to terrorize us. If they force us to abandon our principles. If they lead us to a Fortress Europe in which scared people will live,” Tsipras said. “We will defeat terrorism and barbarism only if we show determination in our choice for a Europe of democracy, freedom and solidarity.”

“It is our obligation to dismantle and isolate the terrorists. But our duty is to immediately stop the cycle of violence and war. To find a solution to the refugee problem; to the drama of people who leave their homes fleeing from the terrorists themselves and drown in the Mediterranean. Europe was and will remain a land of freedom and democracy. And today, more than ever, we must strengthen the values ​​of humanism and freedom that made the French Revolution,” the Greek prime minister said.

In Skopje, president Gjorge Ivanov said that the Macedonian army had already raised the alarm saying more and more people are illegally crossing border crossings that are not marked.

“This requires special measures to be taken by (the Macedonian army) in order to find those who avoid to be registered. Their refusal to be registered raises suspicion that these people might not have good intentions,” Ivanov said after touring the country’s southern border, local media said.

Ivanov said that the terrorist attacks in Paris will affect the refugee crisis as well.

“Since this morning, many countries are starting to take a different approach in dealing with the refugee issue and the matter of security and terrorist attacks… Security is being beefed all over the continent as we are also taking similar measures,” Ivanov said.

In Sofia, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov called the November 13 Paris terrorist attacks “a new September 11 for Europe”.

He said that after this blow at Europe’s heart, in Paris, there was not a single person who was not concerned or a prime minister who could come out and tell his people that there is nothing to fear and everything is all right.

Referring to the migration waves, Borissov said: “Given the tens of thousands of people who cross our borders, get stopped or returned, there surely are people who are aggrieved and angry, and this is a potential risk”.

(Photo: VOA/H Murdock)



The Sofia Globe staff

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