Czech president refuses to welcome any migrants

Czech President Milos Zeman has rejected a government proposal to take in some 2,700 migrants languishing in Italy and Greece, claiming they might pose a security threat, his spokesman said Tuesday.

"The president is against welcoming any migrants on Czech territory. Our country can't afford to run the risk of having terrorist attacks like those committed in France and Germany," Zeman's spokesman Jiri Ovcacek told reporters.

Islamic State group jihadists have in recent weeks claimed four bloody assaults in France and Germany that killed nearly 90 people, wounded hundreds and left the continent on edge.

"In other words, by welcoming in migrants, we're creating a breeding ground for terrorist attacks in the Czech Republic," Ovcacek added.

The centre-left government led by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka proposed earlier this year that the EU member welcome 2,691 refugees through 2017.

Sobotka's proposal, which has not yet been approved, is not linked to contested EU quota system to distribute refugees across the bloc.

The so-called Visegrad-four countries -- the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia -- are all staunchly opposed to the plan.

At the height of the record migrant crisis last year, thousands of people would risk their lives every day, taking the journey from Turkey to the Greek islands in flimsy boats provided by smugglers at an exorbitant cost.

From Greece, they would begin a difficult journey up the Balkan route to countries in northern and western Europe such as Germany and Sweden.

But the route has been shut since March, leaving thousands of people stranded in Greece and in nations along the way.

According to Ovcacek, the migrant influx into Europe is "completely unchecked and beyond control".

"We are unable to distinguish between economic migrants and refugees fleeing war," he said.

Zeman's Slovak counterpart Robert Fico last week raised his own concerns over migration, claiming it would heighten the risk of fresh attacks.

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AFP