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Slovakia divided over UN migration pact

Bratislava, Slovakia – Agreed in July by all 193 UN Member states – apart from the US – the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration has recently faced intense criticism among anti-immigration governments in Central Europe. Austria and Hungary were the first to announce they would not sign the pact, while Poland and the Czech Republic recently suggested they would follow suit, while Slovakia remains divided on the UN migration pact.

Experts highlight the hypocrisy of their withdrawal from a non-legally binding international pact, simply used as a scapegoat, according to them, to boost and please their anti-immigration electorate.

Slovakia is divided on the issue of the UN migration pact. The Slovak National Party (SNS) was the first to speak out against the document, followed by opposition movement “We are Family” that claimed the compact “encroaches on the integrity of sovereign states”. Both SNS and the opposition party Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) want Parliament to adopt a resolution to repudiate the UN accord.

The ruling Smer party itself seems unsure about its stance on the divisive document. In a video message published on social media, former Prime Minister and leader of the ruling Smer party Robert Fico came out against the UN migration pact.

“The compact doesn’t distinguish between legal and illegal migrants and is based on a principle that migration is good, it helps to address the problems of the world and should be a source of prosperity. However, we have a different view on it”, he said, arguing that the deal is not in line with Slovakia’s own migration policy. “Although the compact isn’t legally binding, it is a politically strong document. Slovakia must take a negative position on it”, he pointed out.

However, Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak (Smer-nominee) has been a vocal supporter of the pact, which he helped draft, and criticized the use of fake news and misinformation on the topic. Responding to calls to withdraw from the pact, Lajcak called for a constructive dialogue.

“Let’s discuss the document as you wish, but we should debate its content and meaning, not things that aren’t included – for example an alleged commitment to receive a certain number of migrants, who should allegedly receive hundreds of euros per month. There’s nothing as far from the truth as the fallacies spread actively by some people”.

“I believe we don’t want to see Slovak citizens living abroad hurt by anyone or stripped of their civil, social and economic rights simply because of their place of birth”, Slovakia’s top diplomat said in a reference to all the Slovak migrants living and working in other European countries, including in neighboring Czech Republic.

The Foreign Minister faced backlash for his comments, and has been summoned to Parliament to discuss the objections raised by some lawmakers, according to Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini. He himself has remained ambiguous on the topic and has tried to reassure Slovaks that his government was in no way changing course on its migration policy nor putting the country’s security and sovereignty in jeopardy.

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