“Ongoing security checks show that the country can no longer accept anyone else”, said Milan Chovanec.
His country has so far received only 12 of the 1 600 migrants it has been ordered to take in under the terms of the EU quota deal brokered by German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Vetting so-called refugees is “complicated”, the minister noted, because migrants “have not even been willing to remain in place [in Greek and Italian camps] while security checks take place”. The EU wants to move some 160 000 migrants from Italy and Greece into other EU nations.
“We check thoroughly and in detail during the process, which takes between several weeks and more than two months.
“But these people [migrants] were not prepared to remain in place while being vetted. Because of that, we haven’t given them security clearance.”
Confirming that the country “has no further plans to adopt more migrants”, Chovanec acknowledged that repeated threats from Brussels to punish states which refuse migrants from the third world, would eventually result in fines.
“The Czech Republic does not plan to adopt more migrants”, he said, but that would lead to fines “perhaps in the range of several million Euros”.
“It is then up to the government to assess if it’s worth paying the penalty or not. In my opinion – yes. You cannot let people here without running all the checks.”
Last week the EU told Hungary and Poland they face legal action if they continue to resist orders to take in more migrants. “If Member States do not increase their relocations soon, the Commission will not hesitate to make use of its powers … for those which have not complied,” the EU executive warned in a statement.
However Reuters reported that officials in Brussels are worried that legal proceedings against Hungary and Poland would further open the split between Eurosceptic voters and their pro-EU governments.
Warsaw and Budapest have strongly opposed the scheme, with fewer than 20 000 people that have been resettled so far even though the programme is due to end in September this year.
Left-leaning governments in Germany, Sweden, Austria, Italy and France have demanded that the EU cut subsidies to Hungary and Poland for their refusal to welcome more migrants.
Last year Czech president Milos Zeman warned: “Look across Europe and wonder to what extent Muslim migrants were able to integrate. You will learn about the so-called no go areas and ‘excluded neighbourhoods.’ I do not rule out the possibility of positive examples though.
“As for the Czech Republic, the Muslim community is very much limited here. I am warning against its strengthening.”
In an interview with the Financial Times in 2016, Zeman said: “I am for deportation of all economic migrants,” because Muslim migrant culture was “fundamentally incompatible” with European society.
Deputy Prime Minister Andrej Babis said the country would not accept “a single refugee” as the EU sought to force Eastern European countries to adopt asylum quotas.
Babis – a billionaire and also the Czech finance minister – said: “After what has been happening in Europe, I say clearly that I don’t want even a single refugee in the Czech Republic, not even temporarily. And even if they came, then the Czech Republic should fight the European Commission’s decision and sue it over possible sanctions.”
Czechs were enraged that a decision on imposing the quotas was taken by the EU’s Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) voting system, suggesting that they had lost control over their borders.
A CVVM institute poll in May 2016 found 61 percent of Czechs were against taking in more migrants.
More than 98 percent of Hungarians voted to scrap the Brussels-imposed quotas in a referendum.