Prague, Feb 29 (CTK) – The European solution to migration must include a regulation of refugees in the Western Balkans, also on the Macedonian-Greek border, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said after receiving the relevant mandate for the European Council meeting from the Czech cabinet on Monday.
However, it might be difficult to push through the Plan B as a step to stem the migrant wave in the Western Balkans. Germany, for example, still insists on the fulfilment of the EU-Turkey agreements as a way to tackle the migrant crisis.
“It is necessary to find a joint European solution. In my opinion, the joint solution will have to include the regulation of migration in the Western Balkans, including on the border between Greece and Macedonia. The joint solution also has to include help to Greece and the returning of refugees from Greece to Turkey,” Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) told a press conference after the cabinet meeting.
He is said it is far from surprising that the Western Balkans countries have decided to regulate migration already now.
It is understandable that the Balkans countries have been gradually closing their borders in reaction to Austria that has set its own refugee acceptance limits, Sobotka said.
“I think it is evident, in view of the developments in the past weeks, that the first state to have officially completely ceased to trust the chance of a full regulation of migration between Turkey and Greece is none of the Visegrad Four (V4) countries, but it is Austria,” Sobotka said.
Prague now holds the rotating presidency of the V4,which also includes Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
At their meeting in Prague earlier this month, the V4 prime ministers pushed for the Plan B, or a reserve external EU border to be established on the line of Bulgaria and Macedonia, in case Turkey and Greece failed to stem migration in accordance with their commitments.
Sobotka said predictable consequences of the steps taken by Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia is the rising concentration of refugees in Greece. It raises the motivation of Athens to return migrants to Turkey, and of Ankara to fulfil its agreement with the EU, Sobotka said.
“The more effective Turkey and Greece’s steps are, the fewer measures will have to be taken in the Western Balkans. If the Greek and Turkish intervention were rather ineffective, the more extensive measures would have to be taken in the Western Balkans, including the Greek-Macedonian border,” Sobotka said.
The EU countries should provide financial, humanitarian, organisational and personnel support for Greece. For example, Athens must receive support for ensuring accommodation for refugees, Sobotka said.
A long debate on further tackling of migration can be expected at the EU summit in Brussels next week.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a TV talkshow on Sunday she still relies on the negotiations with Turkey, which is to receive financial support from the EU for stemming the number of refugees heading tor Europe.