Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said Tuesday he does not want a “large Muslim community” and that each EU member should be able to choose how many migrants to accept.
“We don’t have a large Muslim community here,” Sobotka said of the estimated 10,000 to 20,000 Muslims who live in the Central European country of 10.5 million people.
“And to be honest, we don’t want a large Muslim community to form here, given the problems we’re seeing,” Sobotka told the Pravo daily.
Sobotka spoke ahead German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Prague on Thursday, saying their “views diverge” on how to solve Europe’s migrant crisis.
Merkel has urged countries to take in a greater share of refugees, while the Czech Republic staunchly opposes the contested EU quota system devised to distribute refugees across the bloc.
“I’ve been convinced since the start of the migration debate that the member states need to have sovereignty regarding the choice of the number of refugees (to welcome),” Sobotka said.
“It’s the national governments that ultimately have to ensure people’s security.”
The leftist premier however cautioned against casting refugees as terrorists.
“It’s not possible to put an equal sign between refugees and terrorists. But at the same time, it’s not possible to have the same approach as Germany last year, namely to authorise the influx of a huge number of people without any oversight,” he said.
Merkel will also on Thursday meet with Czech President Milos Zeman, who earlier this month said he opposed taking in any migrants at all.
He recently described Merkel’s migration policy – which saw Germany take in 1.1 million migrants and refugees last year – as “absurd”.