East European Countries Reject Refugee Quotas

East European Countries Reject Refugee Quotas East European Countries Reject Refugee Quotas

Eastern Europe rejected refugee quotas on Friday despite German warnings over the “biggest challenge” in EU history, amid disturbing footage of refugees in Hungary being fed “like animals.”

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met counterparts from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia in Prague, but failed to convince them to accept an EU plan to distribute 160,000 refugees around the continent.

“We’re convinced that as countries we should keep control over the number of those we are able to accept,” said Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek after the meeting, World Bulletin reported.

Faced with the surge, Germany says the EU plan does not go far enough, but Chancellor Angela Merkel has few options for convincing countries that refuse to take part, having already rejected punitive measures such as cutting EU subsidies.

Furthermore, Denmark also officially refused to take in some of 160,000 refugees in accordance with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s plan.

“We will not take part in the distribution of the 160,000 refugees,” Integration Minister Inger Stojberg told Danish news agency Ritzau.

Like Britain and Ireland, Denmark has an opt-out on the EU’s asylum policies.

“There is already an informal distribution of asylum-seekers in Europe” and “we are already placed very highly” among the countries who take in the most refugees, she said.

   €3b Aid Package

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called on the European Union to give Syria’s neighbors € 3billion in financial aid to help those displaced by the civil war.

Orban said supporting Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan with such a package would end the mass migration to Europe.

Hungary has struggled to cope with some 150,000 migrants that have crossed its borders so far this year. From next week, people who enter the country illegally will be arrested.

In an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper, Orban said the €3 billion fund could be raised by every EU country paying an extra 1% into the budget, or by a general reduction of EU spending by 1%.

“We have a plan, which I will submit to the EU at our next meeting,” he said. “It means that we support the neighbouring countries of Syria with massive financial aid.”

He said migrants from Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey should “return to where they came from”, before adding: “These people do not flee from danger.”

“They did not come to Europe because they are looking for security, but they want a better life... The living conditions in Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Hungary and Austria do not appeal to them.”

  More Refugees in US?

US House Democrats are calling on the Obama administration to dramatically increase the number of Syrian refugees allowed into the US. The White House has already pledged to let in 10,000 refugees over the next year, but that is being called insufficient.

“It is our moral duty, as a nation founded on the principles of equality and freedom, to do what we can to assist our brethren who are in desperate turmoil, and are searching for the slightest gesture of goodwill,” wrote 72 Democrats from the US House of Representatives in a letter to the administration on Friday, according to the Hill.

Lawmakers said the country could easily support the resettlement of as many as 130,000 Syrian refugees, a figure 10 times that proposed by the White House earlier this week.

“The United States is home to 320 million people,” lawmakers wrote. “Allowing an additional 130,000 refugees into our country would make up less than a quarter of 1% of our population.”

The Obama administration has been sharply criticized by the EU on the relatively few refugees the US has been willing to accept, stating Washington was not doing enough compared to other countries in the Middle East and Europe.

Just how many Syrian refugees the US decides to take in will have to be settled by Congress by the end of this month, before the beginning of the next fiscal cycle.