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article imageSlovakia to file lawsuit over EU migrant quotas by mid-December

By AFP     Nov 24, 2015 in World

Slovakia will launch legal action by next month against an EU quota plan to distribute 160,000 refugees and migrants across the bloc, a justice ministry spokeswoman told AFP Tuesday.

"The justice ministry, together with representatives of relevant ministries, is working on preparing the lawsuit," spokeswoman Alexandra Donevova told AFP, adding that it would be "submitted before December 18".

Bratislava intends to lodge the suit with the European Court of Justice, which adjudicates in disputes over how EU law is interpreted and applied.

A nation of 5.4 million people, Slovakia is among several eastern European countries staunchly against a system of migrant quotas designed to ease the burden on countries like Greece, Italy and Germany that have received the lion's share of arrivals.

Few migrants have entered Slovakia on their voyage to western Europe, and even fewer asylum seekers have chosen to stay. Under the EU's quota system, Bratislava is expected to take in just under 2,300 migrants.

Seeking re-election in March, Slovakia's popular leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico said he would rather risk infringing EU rules than implement what he described as the EU's "diktat" migrant quotas.

He also told local press that Slovakia's lawsuit would address "very significant" issues surrounding relations between EU members and Brussels, including countries' weighting in EU decision-making.

Fico had in September raised the spectre of terrorists slipping into Slovakia masquerading as refugees, a possibility experts had deemed unlikely at the time.

During a televised debate last week, he insisted that the "security of Slovak citizens took precedence over the rights of migrants".

"We are monitoring every Muslim in Slovakia," Fico told local journalists after the shooting and bomb attacks in Paris that were claimed by the Islamic State jihadist group, while admitting that "in the majority of cases they're (Muslims) here legally."

The International Organization for Migration on Tuesday estimated that nearly 860,000 migrants had landed in Europe so far this year, with over 3,500 dying while crossing the Mediterranean in search of safety.

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