The prime ministers of Austria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia are taking a common stand against more Afghan refugees in the European Union amid growing concern in the bloc over an influx of migrants from Afghanistan.
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on September 7 that there would be no place for Afghan refugees in the European Union and they should stay in Afghanistan or neighboring countries.
"There is really no place for them in Europe," Babis said after meeting his Austrian and Slovak counterparts at the southeastern Czech town of Lednice.
The three countries, alongside fellow EU members Poland and Hungary, have long taken a tough position on migration, leading to deep divisions within the bloc over the sharing of refugees.
The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan in August has stoked fears of a repeat of Europe's 2015 migration crisis, when more than 1 million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East arrived in the bloc. The EU has received thousands of Afghan refugees since the Taliban takeover through a U.S.-led international airlift from Kabul last month.
During Europe’s migration crisis, hundreds of thousands of people crossed from Turkey and took the so-called Balkan route to wealthier EU countries, before that route was largely shut in a cascade of border closures.
"An option is to lead talks with [Turkish] President [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan, like in the past, but I don't think that's a good alternative," Babis said. "A better alternative is a solution making the people stay in Afghanistan," he added.
He was referring to a 2016 EU deal with Turkey that stemmed the flow of migrants in exchange for billions of dollars of financial support.
Turkey hosts nearly 4 million Syrian refugees and 300,000 Afghans, in addition to migrants and refugees from other parts of the world. Erdogan has warned that his country will not take in more migrants from Afghanistan to help Europe.
Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said his country would contribute $21.3 million to help Afghans in countries neighboring Afghanistan.
"We will try to moderate their suffering, but we agree the year 2015 should not happen again. We are against illegal migration and we will fight traffickers," said Kurz.
"We need to seek a solution in the region and not spark another exodus to Europe," he added.
Kurz has previously said his country would not take anymore Afghans, describing them as a "particularly difficult integration" problem.
Czech, Austrian, And Slovak Leaders Reject More Afghan Migrants In EU