Salem Radio Network News Saturday, December 2, 2023


Slovakia’s neighbours boost border checks to stem illegal migrant flows

By Jason Hovet and Pawel Florkiewicz

PRAGUE/WARSAW (Reuters) -The Czech Republic and Poland took coordinated action on Tuesday to introduce checks along their borders with Slovakia to curb illegal migration and smuggler activity, prompting Austria to follow suit.

The controls, which angered Slovakia, start on Wednesday and run at least 10 days.

Dealing with illegal migration has been a point of contention and unity in central Europe.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have been allies in opposing European Union migration plans, such as quotas, in the past. But, with all the countries in the EU’s Schengen visa-free zone, renewed controls during times of increased migrant flows have caused political and trade friction.

Illegal migration was a key issue in elections in Slovakia last weekend, and in elections in Poland later this month.

“This is a measure necessary for the effective fight against groups of smugglers and illegal migration,” Czech Interior Minister Vit Rakusan said on messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday.

Random checks would be along the entire border, and would limit the impact on cross-border traffic, he said.

Austrian Interior Minister Gerhard Karner later said Vienna would also introduce checks on its border with Slovakia, continuing a policy of matching Czech controls to guard against spillover to its border.

Slovakia’s government said it would react to the Czech and Polish moves on Wednesday, with Slovak caretaker Prime Minister Ludovit Odor saying the issue needed a European fix.

Slovakia has faced a rising number of illegal migrants crossing as they head to Germany and western Europe. The migrants, predominantly young men from the Middle East and Afghanistan, have mostly come via the so-called Balkan route, through Hungary from Serbia.


Slovakia’s leftist former prime minister Robert Fico took a hard line on the issue before an election last weekend. His party won and is now seeking to form a government, and Fico has said guarding the border with Hungary will be a priority.

Odor’s government has said it is virtually impossible to seal the 655km border with Hungary, but has sent up to 500 soldiers to help police patrols.

Slovakia said last month the number of detained illegal migrants had soared nine fold, to more than 27,000 this year.

Odor said unilateral action by countries created a “cascade effect”.

“In this case, the process was started by Poland, which is in the pre-election period, followed by the Czech Republic,” he said.

Poland holds an election on Oct. 15 in which illegal migration has been a key campaign issue, and the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has used ads showing the threat of it.

Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said on Tuesday Poland is facing a jump in illegal migration.

“In recent weeks, we detected and detained 551 illegal migrants at the border with Slovakia. This situation causes us to take decisive action,” Kaminski said.

(Reporting by Jason Hovet and Jan Lopatka in Prague, Pawel Florkiewicz and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk in Warsaw, Francois Murphy in Vienna; Editing by Andrew Heavens, Ed Osmond and Deborah Kyvrikosaios)


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