The European Union pushed through a controversial deal to relocate 120,000 refugees on Tuesday, riding roughshod over fierce opposition from eastern states in a major blow to unity within the bloc.
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Migrants are escorted by Hungarian police officers as they walk towards the railway station in Zakany, 230 kms southwest of Budapest, Hungary, after they crossed the border from Croatia Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. (Gyorgy Varga/MTI via AP)[/caption]
In a move that further sours regional ties as Europe wrestles with its biggest migration crisis since World War II, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia all voted against the plan while Finland abstained.
Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico insisted he would not accept the "diktat" from Brussels, under which EU countries must take a share of new arrivals from overstretched
frontline states like Greece and Italy.
Interior ministers briskly voted through the deal on the eve of a crisis summit of EU leaders, but in a rare step, it was by a majority vote instead of unanimity.
Speaking shortly after the decision, French President Francois Hollande said that Europe had "taken on its responsibilities" by agreeing to relocate 120,000 refugees around the bloc.
"We will show that we can do this, and at the same time have rules. That is taking responsibility, that is solidarity," he said on a visit to London.
Luxembourg minister Jean Asselborn, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said the plan was forced through despite opposition because it was an "emergency situation".
"If we had not done this, Europe would have been even more divided," he told a press conference.