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Hardeep Matharu

Slovakia’s Prime Minister has said that “Islam has no place” in the country – weeks before it takes over the presidency of the EU.

Robert Fico won Slovakia’s premiership for the third time in March, although his leftist-nationalist Smer-Social Democracy party lost its parliamentary majority.

Ahead of the vote, Mr Fico advanced hard-line views about migration and said he would not accept “one single Muslim” migrant into the country – points he reiterated in his first post-election interview this week.

Speaking about migration, he told Slovakian news agency TASR: “When I say something now, maybe it will seem strange, but I’m sorry, Islam has no place in Slovakia.

“I think it is the duty of politicians to talk about these things very clearly and openly.

“I do not wish there were tens of thousands of Muslims.”

Slovakia is due take over the EU’s rotating presidency from 1 July, giving it a greater role in discussions about how the continent should tackle its migration and refugee crisis.

Along with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, Slovakia has called for Europe’s borders to be sealed off to block the main routes used by refugees to enter Europe.

Mr Fico has fiercely opposed EU quotas on migrant resettlement from Greece and Italy, which would see Slovakia taking 2,600 migrants.

The Prime Minister told TASR that he had heard about other countries’ negative experiences of migration, including Malta.

He said: “I talked about this several times with the Maltese Prime Minister, who told me that the problem is not that they were coming, but they are changing the character of the country.

“And we do not want to change the traditions of the country, which is built on Constantine-Methodist tradition.”

He said that anyone claiming that Slovakia wants to be multicultural would be going against the very essence of the country.

Responding to his interview, the Islamic Foundation in Slovakia told The Slovak Spectator: “The repeated statements of Mr Premier do not only harm Slovak Muslims but also the country’s interests as a sovereign country which is building its position on the international scene.”