“There are 700,000 illegal migrants,” Andrej Babis said in an interview with The Guardian newspaper. “They need to go home.”
Babis has long railed against the implementation of EU-imposed migrant quotas, along with the leaders of neighboring Slovakia, Hungary and Poland – collectively known as the Visegrad Group. He has previously labeled the quotas “absurd” and “not effective.”
At the height of the migrant crisis in 2015, approximately two million non-EU citizens were believed to be present in member states. While many of these were refugees fleeing Syria’s devastating civil war, thousands also made the journey as economic migrants from Africa.
While the number of these illegals has now fallen to 618,780, according to 2017 statistics from Eurostat, Babis believes both economic migrants and refugees should return home.
These people should stay home and we should help them in Africa. The people around Syria… they would like to return home.
Rather than an expanded budget for the EU’s border agency Frontex, Babis thinks national governments should instead protect their own borders and coastlines.
“Smugglers made €5.7 billion in 2016 and we have to stop it,” he said.
Babis, along with Hungary’s Victor Orban, has been skeptical of an expanded Frontex, believing it to be a power grab by Brussels to take border control away from states on the bloc’s frontier.
Instead, Babis suggests that the EU should make funds available to help develop African countries like the Marshall Plan, the US aid initiative that helped rebuild Western Europe after World War Two.
This, Babis believes, would help convince potential migrants to stay in their own countries.
“They have their culture, we have our culture,” he said. “They have their values, but we want to keep [our] values.”