Thursday, 21 September 2017

Prague is to argue it cannot be blamed for not accepting refugees

ČTK |
12 July 2017

Brussels/Prague, July 11 (CTK) - The Czech Republic is likely to argue that it could not meet its pledge to accept asylum seekers from Italy and Greece due to bad conditions and inactivity of especially the Italian authorities, according to the information CTK has received.

On June 14, the European Commission opened legal cases against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland over their unwillingness to resettle migrants. The deadline for the Czech Republic to react within the proceedings is Thursday, July 13. The case may end up in the EU court.

The EC has decided to take the steps against the three countries because they have not offered to accept any new refugees within the redistribution programme for over a year, though it was agreed in 2015 that each country would make a new offer once in three months.

The Czech Republic is to argue that it wanted to test the system and offered to accept 50 refugees in the spring of 2016, Greece did not use the offer and Italy only partly, according to CTK's information.

From Greece, only 12 of 30 asylum seekers were resettled. Italy at first did not let security interviews with the selected refugees to be held by the Czechs in its territory and it did not even react to the second Czech offer. As a result, no refugee was resettled.

Since Italy and Greece did not meet the conditions and did not cooperate, the Czech Republic was unable to meet its pledge, the state is to argue in its dispute with the EC.

In the letter addressed to the EC, Prague is to emphasise that a security interview is a necessary precondition for avoiding that the resettled refugee would pose a security threat to the country. Warsaw is allegedly going to use a similar argument.

Prague is likely to note that practically none of the EU member states meets the quotas for refugee redistribution.

More than 22,000 asylum seekers were resettled from Italy and Greece within the programme, but the original plan was to resettle up to 160,000 by September.

Prague is also expected to highlight its other contributions in coping with the migrant wave.

The Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, which form the Visegrad Group, insist on their opposition to the refugee quotas. Hungary and Slovakia challenged the quotas in court.

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