Populist Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has said that Europe’s illegal migrants “need to go home” and rejected European Union plans for increasing the size and power of its border force Frontex.
“There are 700,000 illegal migrants – they need to go home,” Prime Minister Babiš told The Guardian ahead of Brexit talks with Prime Minister Theresa May in London on Wednesday.
Babiš, the founder of the centre-right ANO party, was elected last year after running on a pro-sovereignty, anti-open borders platform and is closely aligned with fellow Visegrád members Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.
Like the leaders of his fellow Central European allies, he has refused the EU’s forced reallocation of asylum seekers and warned that resettling was the “road to hell” and would exasperate illegal migration after nearly two million had arrived since the 2015 crisis.
The Slovakia-born populist also told the left-wing newspaper that he rejects the European Commission’s plans to expand the size of Frontex, saying the priority should be stopping the people smugglers who are bringing migrants from Africa and Asia across the Mediterranean to mainland Europe.
“Smugglers made €5.7bn in 2016 and we have to stop it,” the Czech premier said.
He added that the proposed 10 billion euro (£8.85bn/$11.4bn) Frontex expansion budget would be better spent on investing in African nations to stop the migrant flows at the source.
“These people should stay home and we should help them in Africa,” said.
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“The people around Syria … they would like to return home,” he added.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has also warned against enlarging Frontex, saying it would put Eurocrats in charge of nations’ rights to control their own borders.
Noting that migrant issues are set to dominate European Parliament elections in May, Babiš told The Guardian that the EU is split between those that support a progressive, open borders agenda and those that want to retain their sovereignty — a division observed by Prime Minister Orbán who called globalist President of France Emmanuel Macron “the leader of pro-migration parties in Europe”.
Explaining that migrants from the Global South should not be allowed into Europe without a permit, the Czech leader said: “They have their culture, we have our culture.”
“They have their values, but we want to keep [our] values,” he added.