Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

Respekt: Czechs fear refugees, but coped with them well in 1990s

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Table of Contents

Prague, June 22 (CTK) – The Czech government declares that the country cannot accept 1800 refugees from Syria and Eritrea, although it managed to accept similar numbers in the 1990s, weekly Respekt writes in its issue out yesterday.
Czechs have been feeling insecurity and fear from the moment that the refugee quotas for individual EU countries were proposed. The unknown Arabs and Africans who currently stay in refugee camps in southern Europe are rejected by both people from the villages and the towns, by left-wing ministers as well as the right-wing opposition, the communists and secret services, Respekt writes.
It seems that the long disunited society has finally found its national interest: to prevent the arrival of refugees from Syria and Eritrea, the weekly writes.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) speaks as if he was one of the terrified common citizens, Respekt writes.
“(The refugees) are poor fellows, but we cannot have our country undermined,” Chovanec is quoted as telling to media.
In the mid-1990s, 3500 refugees from Bosnia, mostly Muslims, arrived in the Czech Republic and about 2000 of them remained in the country, but no fuss was made about it then, the weekly writes.
Dzana Popovic, who came from Sarajevo then and is now living in Prague, said the Czech Republic took good care of her and the other refugees. “We got jobs and so the active people could integrate quickly. The government offered permanent residence to all who had a job and accommodation,” she told Respekt.
After another Balkan war in the late 1990s, about 1000 refugees from the poor Kosovo came to the Czech Republic. The then CSSD government of Milos Zeman rented private boarding houses in towns and villages all over the country for the refugees.
The country again coped with the demanding task and the refugees from Kosovo returned home after the civil war in their homeland ended, Respekt writes.
“Czechs managed the situation well. We had all that we needed,” one of the refugees, Hanushe Blakcori, said.
Blakcori is one of the few who has remained in the Czech Republic. She has been living in the city of Brno.
“Colleagues at work said they don’t want the refugees here because the refugees are not from Europe, they will stay here and turn into terrorists. But I don’t believe it. These people are fleeing from the terror and they are common people. I can’t understand why they (my Czech colleagues) are so afraid,” Blakcori said.
The present refugee challenge is similar to those in the 1990s. According to the quotas proposed by the European Commission, the Czechs would accept 1328 and 525 refugees in the next two years within two programmes.
The Czech Republic could be proud that it coped with two refugee crisis in the 1990s. The country is rather rich and its asylum and integration system seems better than those in other post-communist states, Respekt writes.
But the latest Eurobarometer survey showed that the Czech Republic is among the five EU countries that oppose immigrants the most.
A Median poll from February showed that those Czechs who know and meet immigrants the least fear them the most.
Sociologist Daniel Prokop, from Median, said this fear was not deeply rooted among Czechs but rather a result of negative presentation of foreigners.
Prokop said politicians claim that the public is not ready to accept refugees and foreigners, although the public opinion may be changed rather easily.
“But our political elites do not feel like explaining something to the public. They don’t believe that the public can be convinced,” Prokop said.
The Interior Ministry deals with emotions but not with reasonable questions concerning the 1800 refugees, such as how expensive their acceptance would be, where would they live and what would they do, Respekt writes.
In 2014, about 1000 people applied for asylum in the Czech Republic and nearly 400 were granted asylum. In the neighbouring Bavaria, which has a population slightly higher than the Czech Republic, the situation is very different: 32,000 asylum seekers have arrived there since January and their number is likely to double by the end of the year, Respekt writes.

most viewed

Subscribe Now