Monday, 20 November 2017

ForMin: Zeman's proposal to deport migrants is not Czech policy

ČTK |
3 October 2016

Prague, Oct 2 (CTK) - Czech President Milos Zeman's suggestion that economic migrants be deported from Europe to uninhabited Greek islands is not Prague's official policy and the government will make no such recommendation, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said in a television discussion on Sunday.

"This is not official policy of the Czech Republic. Of course, we will not recommend that anyone place migrants on their islands," Zaoralek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said on Czech Television (CT).

Nevertheless, he admitted that Europe, with its limited capacities, will be unable to afford the acceptance of a large number of economic migrants.

In an interview with the British daily Financial Times (FT), Zeman recommended that economic refugees be deported from Europe to empty areas in northern Africa or uninhabited Greek islands.

For Greece, this could be a means to gradually reduce its foreign debt, Zeman said.

Zeman gave the interview to FT on Rhodes where he attended the Dialogue of Civilisations conference staged by entrepreneur Vladimir Yakunin, who is an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Due to his presence on Rhodes, Zeman did not attend the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Friday.

This was criticised by former Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg (now opposition TOP 09) in the CT debate on Sunday.

Schwarzenberg said Zeman should have preferred attending Peres's funeral.

"He neglects his duties by preferring his predilections," Schwarzenberg said.

Zaoralek, for his part, said he considers the Rhodes conference and academic event and that the president has the right to choose where to go.

Zaoralek and Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) represented the Czech Republic at the Jerusalem ceremony.

Zeman, in his interview with FT, said the culture of Muslim refugees is totally incompatible with European society.

He said there is a firm connection between the influx of immigrants and the Jihadist wave in Europe.

Extremists among refugees can radicalise moderate Muslims in a way similar to the case of the Nazis and Germans in the 1930s, Zeman said.

He proposed the deportation of all economic immigrants who, he said, make up more than one third of all immigrants coming to the EU. This means the deportation of hundreds of thousands of economic migrants. If they have come, they may also leave, Zeman said.

He said he respects the atrocities of the civilian war in countries such as Syria and Iraq, and emphasised that his recommendation does not apply to genuine war refugees.

Commenting on Zeman, FT wrote his statements reflect the unpopularity of the EU-proposed refugee allocation quotas in the former communist countries of Central Europe, which have only little experience with non-European immigration.

FT also describes Zeman as a promoter of provocative rhetoric and cites some of his previous comments on foreign political developments that aroused emotions.

During his stay on Rhodos, Zeman called himself a "prophet" when he warned against a possible radicalisation of refugees.

He reminded the listeners of the fate of Cassandra, a mythological prophet. She warned against the Trojan horse. She was right, Zeman said, FT writes.

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