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Diplomats: Czech relations with West may worsen over migration

ČTK |
8 September 2015

Prague, Sept 7 (CTK) - Czech relations with West European countries threaten to worsen due to the migration crisis since the West promotes mandatory quotas for the redistribution of refugees across the European Union, while the Czech Republic rejects the quotas, senior Czech diplomats have told CTK.

"The general opposition to the quotas begins to harm us," one of them said.

His colleague said he fears that Czech relations with countries like Germany and Austria, which have been calling for EU solidarity in dealing with the refugee influx the most loudly, may worsen.

The change in attitude can be seen in the vocabulary of some of the Western partners. "We are not called new members anymore, but Eastern Europe," one of the Czech diplomats said.

The quotas are rejected by other Central and East European countries, too.

The worsening atmosphere in the EU due to the migration crisis is reflected even in personal contacts that play a significant role in diplomatic relations, the diplomat said. A Belgian colleague did not even greet the Czech representatives at a European meeting, he added.

Representatives of the Czech and German foreign ministries will discuss migration next week.

The Central and East European countries' stance on migration has been strongly criticised especially by Austria.

However, the Czech diplomats addressed by CTK connected this criticism with the forthcoming elections in Upper Austria and Vienna where the government parties fear a weakening of their position.

Austrian Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner has recently proposed a reduction of financial aid to the EU countries that disagree with the spread of refugees. This view was also voiced by some in Germany. The Czech Republic resolutely rejected this idea.

Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka indicated that such blackmailing was unacceptable. He said EU subsidies were granted based on very different criteria.

Prague does not refuse to provide aid, but only a small number of refugees applied for asylum in the Czech Republic, Sobotka said last week.

Sobotka, Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann talked about migration in Bratislava Monday.

Czech authorities have detained about 2500 refugees since June, but only some 60 Syrians have applied for asylum in the country. The refugees mostly try to get to richer countries, such as Germany and Sweden, with more generous welfare systems. These countries want all EU member countries to accept refugees.

In May, the European Commission proposed that all member countries accept a part of 40,000 migrants based on mandatory quotas, but the proposal was rejected by some countries. Brussels is going to present a new proposal for the mandatory redistribution of further 120,000 refugees. Czechs would have to accept nearly 3000 migrants within this plan, which is twice more than the 1500 Prague decided to voluntarily accept.

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