LJUBLJANA (Slovenia): Central European leaders on Friday voiced concern over what they said was a potential migration rush from Afghanistan as US and Nato forces pull out from that country. They also complained that a small group of powerful countries within the European Union continue to call the shots without input from smaller or less wealthy member states.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said a Nato troop withdrawal from Afghanistan could trigger a migration influx into Europe, on top of a steady stream of migrant arrivals from Africa.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis took it a step further to suggest that a migration wave from Afghanistan constitutes a big threat.

“For that reason we must be capable of protecting our external borders,” Morawiecki said.

The prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia — all EU and Nato members — gathered in Slovenia on Friday, just days after the Alpine nations took over the EU’s rotating presidency. The countries make up the so-called Visegrad Group, an informal body that aims at closer regional cooperation.

Most Central and Eastern European countries have in the past opposed allowing into Europe people fleeing war and poverty from the Middle East, Africa or Asia.

Hungary erected a fence on its southern border with Serbia following a massive influx of migrants in 2016 that saw a million people reach Western Europe.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Friday urged Central European countries to stick together on the issue of migration so that their voice is heard within the 27-member bloc.

Cooperation between Central Europe countries is not a theory but a practical reality, Orban said.

Orban and Slovenias right-wing Prime Minister Janez Jansa are close allies. Jansa has also recently faced EU scrutiny over concerns that his government has been curbing media and democratic freedoms in the traditionally liberal country.

Central European countries have been critical of EU migration policies have have accused the bloc of fostering inequality among its members that diminishes their influence.

The Populist governments of Hungary and Poland have openly clashed with Brussels over a number of issues including the rule of law and LGBT rights.

At a joint press conference after the meeting, the officials praised their cooperation and pledged to support Slovenia’s six-month tenure at the EU’s helm.

Morawiecki complained that Central European countries feel that they’re only pawns on some European chess board.

This is why our voice in the discussion about Europes future . must be very loud, he said. We are against centralism ... we are for a strong role of sovereign states that cooperate very closely together in the economy.” Ahead of the gathering, Slovenias LGBT groups demanded that Jansa publicly condemn both Poland and Hungary over policies that they say stifles LGBT rights, the STA news agency reported.

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2021

Opinion

Sialkot speaks
31 Jul 2021

Sialkot speaks

The PML-N leadership is shell-shocked. A drubbing by the PTI in Sialkot? In the heart of Sharif territory?
Who messed up Afghanistan?
Updated 31 Jul 2021

Who messed up Afghanistan?

Russia and USA are squarely responsible for Afghanistan’s tragedy but Pakistan is certainly not innocent.

Editorial

China-Taliban meeting
Updated 31 Jul 2021

China-Taliban meeting

WITH the government in Kabul appearing to stand on very fragile foundations, and as the clock ticks down to the ...
31 Jul 2021

Outages in Makran

IT is no surprise that people in Balochistan’s Makran Division have of late taken to the streets to protest in the...
31 Jul 2021

Reduction in polio cases

AFTER the long and tedious efforts of those running the national polio programme, there are signs that Pakistan ...
30 Jul 2021

Judge’s elevation

A CONTROVERSY roiling the legal fraternity for a few weeks has come to a head. It was precipitated by the Judicial...
PTI’s Sialkot win
30 Jul 2021

PTI’s Sialkot win

The PML-N’s internal duality is a particularly acute factor that is dragging down the party in electoral contests.
30 Jul 2021

Attack on Chinese

AN attack targeting two Chinese nationals in Karachi on Wednesday should put the security apparatus on alert in ...