Slovakia's foreign minister said Wednesday that the recent surge of refugees seeking asylum in Europe could unite the far-right in his country, calling it a "scary" prospect.
“Our society has no migration experience,” Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak said in an interview with The Associated Press during a visit to Bucharest.
"There is a clear difference between the new member states and the old member states," he said. While Western Europe is "multiracial" and "multi-religious," Lajcak added, there isn’t "a single mosque" in Slovakia.
While most recent migrants into the 28-member European Union would prefer to settle in Germany or Sweden, he said, Slovakia’s far right is nevertheless stirring up fears of a sudden influx of refugees. Lajcak said they are promising to “protect” Slovakia, and he thinks people will vote for them. With parliamentary elections six months away, Lacjak warns that the far-right is organizing demonstrations against refugees as a campaign tactic. “They are scaring people," Lajcak said.
Lajcak called for a "very open, a very rational, a very dep, substantial discussion" about how Europe is going to deal with these issues.
It isn’t just politicians on the far right, however, who have shown their unease with accepting refugees.
In August, a spokesman for the Slovakian Interior Ministry, Ivan Netik, told BBC News that his country would not accept Muslim refugees because they wouldn't like it in Slovakia. Many of refugees leaving Syria, Afghanistan and sub-Saharan Africa are Muslim.
"We could take 800 Muslims, but we don't have any mosques in Slovakia so how can Muslims be integrated if they are not going to like it here?" Netik said.
Lajcak, in contrast, denied that Slovakia would select migrants based "on culture or religion."
Some of Slovakia’s neighbors in Eastern Europe have taken a particularly strong stance on the refugee issue. Hungary blocked refugees from entering Budapest's main train terminal in an attempt to stop them from heading towards Austria and Germany. Hungarian authorities have also used tear gas at refugees attempting to cross into Serbian and built a razor-wire fence at that border.
Over 2,600 people have died in the Mediterranean this year, according to the International Organization for Migration, and many others have died traveling over land, including 71 people found in the back of an abandoned truck in Austria last week.
EU leaders will hold an emergency meeting in Brussels in two weeks to try and find a common strategy for facing the humanitarian crisis. Yet a stark divide remains between its member states on how exactly to solve the problem.
Germany, for example, has proposed a new system that would establish quotas for the number of refugees each EU country would take in. Slovakia, Hungary and others vehemently opposed such a move.
Al Jazeera and wire services