The Visegrad countries are still reluctant to accept refugees. The most recent and also vocal troublemaker is Slovakia who has initiated a legal action against the EU’s relocation scheme, followed by Hungary. The European Court of Justice had already ruled against Poland and the Czech Republic.
Visegrad governments say that they only respond to the negative sentiment in their respective societies and therefore they also often tend to use very harsh rhetoric, speaking of “migrants” not “asylum seekers”. In June, a study by IBRIS found that 51% Poles would prefer the country to leave the EU rather than accept refugees from Muslim countries. Polls in Slovakia have similar results but a recent international research project (CODES – Comprehending and Debating Euroscepticism) went deeper into the way people look at the EU and its current challenges.
During focus groups, researchers from Comenius University in Bratislava asked the following migrations question: “If the EU forced Slovakia to accept 1000 refugees, would that be a reason to leave the EU?” The prevailing answer was always no. According to the researchers, the participants did not initially distinguish between economic migrants and asylum seekers. “Their first idea is an economic migrant coming from a peaceful country seeking economic benefits. Later, as the discussion unfolds, they begin to distinguish between the two. They acknowledge those fleeing war should receive support and formulate conditions,” Pavol Babos of Comenius University noted.