PM Andrej Babiš: ‘Why should we be caring for Syrian orphans?’
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has come under fire for outright rejecting a proposal to take in 50 Syrian orphans – or even a single refugee until the EU secures its borders. In an interview published on Saturday, he said the Czech Republic had demonstrated its solidarity in other, meaningful ways and has its own orphans to worry about.
That line in the sand, based on legal grounds, has generally met with support from Czech politicians, as has rejecting mandatory EU quotas for resettling refugees. But Mr Babiš’s outright refusal now to take in a single refugee – even orphans from war-torn Syria – has been widely condemned.
“Why should we accept them? We also have orphans in the Czech Republic who we must be preparing for life,” Mr Babiš said in the interview. “I went into politics mainly to look after Czech citizens. Why should we be caring for Syrian orphans?”
Pavel Telička, an independent MEP elected on the Ano party ticket of Mr Babiš says the prime minister’s “extreme” shift in position would leave him isolated at home.
“He has evidently moved from what was a quite reasonable, carefully considered position – rejecting EU quotas and combatting illegal migration – to one where he is saying this country will not even consider a request to grant asylum or temporary protection to people from war-torn Syria. He will not even consider discussing it. Such an extreme position, I think, will make the prime minister himself something of an ‘orphan’ on the Czech political scene.”
According to the United Nations, more than 5.6 million Syrians have fled their country since the civil war began in March 2011.