Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Prague not to accept migrants from Italy, offers police, experts

ČTK |
16 July 2018

Prague, July 15 (CTK) - The Czech Republic will not meet the Italian request and will not accept any refugees from the group of 450 that got stuck in a fisherman's boat, Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) told CTK on Sunday.

Babis insists that the admission of migrants must be based on the principle of voluntary decision-making.

Interim Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD), who is also heading the Interior Ministry, said the Czech Republic can help Italy in another way by offering experts and police officers.

Prague is also prepared to participate in the operation in north Libya under Italian command, he added.

Italian PM Giuseppe Conte has asked the EU countries to help with the relocation of 450 migrants who stranded at sea.

Babis said Europe must send a signal that illegal migration was inadmissible. The admission of such people is only worsening this problem, he added.

"Our country will not accept any migrants. We have pushed through the voluntary decision principle for relocation in the European Council and will stick to this," Babis texted to CTK.

"It is no solution to accept these people. On the contrary, this is just worsening the problem we have in Europe," he added.

Hamacek confirmed that Prague would reject the Italian request to accept migrants.

"We must focus on the solution to the migrant crisis causes and he ways of halting the flow of illegal migrants, including the fight with their smugglers. We will not tackle the migrant crisis by keeping the door to Europe open to uncontrolled migration," Hamacek told CTK.

He added that the Czech Republic was offering its experts and police officers to Italy.

"We are also prepared to get involved in the operation under Italian command in support of Libyan security forces," Hamacek added.

Some 450 people were aboard a fisherman's boat from which the vessels of the Frontex EU agency and the Italian financial guard took them. Conte then turned to the EU and asked it to help solve the situation.

Babis told CTK that representatives of all EU member states had received a copy of Conte's letter addressed to the presidents of the European Council and Commission, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker, respectively.

Malta and France have reacted to Conte's request, promising to accept 50 people each.

Babis does not agree with these steps.

"But such approach is the road to hell. This only motivates people smugglers and increases their profit," he said.

The EU must send a clear signal that it will return all illegal migrants immediately, he said.

"We must help migrants in the countries from which they are coming, outside the European border to prevent them from setting out for a journey at all," Babis said.

Communists (KSCM) chairman Vojtech Filip is of the view that the Czech Republic experienced that it was just a transit station for refugees.

"We must help the countries where they come from, rid them of hunger, aggression and wars. In many cases, those are just economic migrants. The world powers and EU member states must agree on aid," Filip added.

Anti-immigration and anti-EU Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) chairman Tomio Okamura said not the Italian government, but the EU policy was to blame for the current problems. The solution is a zero toleration of migration, which the EU rejects, he said.

"PM Babis is rightfully horrified as he knows that he will have to obey Berlin and Brussels eventually," Okamura said.

Joint steps and rules are needed both on the national and EU levels to prevent similar situations in the future, opposition Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) chairman Pavel Belobradek said.

"We must help Italy but not by pouring water into a leaky barrel," he wrote to CTK.

Opposition TOP 09 chairman Jiri Pospisil said he agreed with the stance of the ANO-CSSD minority government on the refugee quotas and in general on the redistribution of refugees among the EU member states.

"It is not possible to redistribute migrants in an administrative way at variance with their wishes," he told CTK, adding that they would end in Sweden of Germany, where they were heading, anyway. Another thing is to provide financial aid to the countries afflicted by mass migration, he said.

The Czech Republic has long supported other solutions to migration problems, and not just the redistribution of migrants among the EU members states. Along with other Central European countries, Prague is promoting a strict and consistent protection of European borders and aid in the migrants' countries of origin.

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