Bratislava: Residents of the Slovakian village of Gabcikovo voted in a referendum Sunday to reject the establishment of a temporary asylum camp to house 500 migrants bound for Austria under an agreement between Bratislava and Vienna.
About 97 percent of voters said yes to the question "Are you against the establishment of a temporary migrant camp in the building of the Slovak Technical University?".
According to Teodor Bodo, the head of the referendum`s electoral commission, 2,600 of Gabcikovo`s 4,300 adult residents participated in the vote, with only 102 in favour of hosting migrants.
Local authorities organised the consultation following a petition signed by 3,150 residents of Gabcikovo. The interior ministry warned however that the outcome of the consultation was not binding.
"The local referendum is binding on the municipality, but the interior ministry, as an organ of the state is not obliged to act according to its results," said ministry spokeswoman Michaela Paulenova.
Slovakia has agreed to house 500 migrants who have applied for asylum in Austria, at the end of a bilateral agreement concluded on July 21 in Vienna and designed to reduce pressure on the neighbouring country`s capabilities for receiving migrants.
Under this agreement, hailed as "a great sign of solidarity on the part of Slovakia" by Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, Slovakia will pay the cost of accommodation and food for migrants while Austria will assume the personnel costs.
Mikl-Leitner`s Slovak counterpart Robert Kalinak justified Bratislava`s gesture as a desire to "pay (its) debts" to Austria, which hosted refugees during the time of the Iron Curtain and supported Slovakia`s accession to the EU and the Schengen area.
"Everything is ready now for Gabcikovo to accommodate migrants from Austria", Paulenova said. The date of their arrival is however not yet known, she added.