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PM: Europe will attract migrants for decade to follow

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Prague, March 2 (CTK) – Europe will continue to attract refugees for the next ten years if it remains a region of prosperity and stability, and the migrant streams cannot be stemmed without stability in the areas surrounding Europe, Czech PM Bohuslav Sobotka said in a debate in the Senate on Wednesday.

The debate focused on the results of the recent EU summit.

Later on Wednesday, the upper house of parliament sided with the government by supporting the establishment of a joint European border and coastal guard that would replace the current Frontex agency and reinforce the protection of the Schengen border amid the migrant crisis.

The plan was proposed by the EC in December. Up to 2,000 border and coastal guard officers would be ready to start helping protect an EU country’s border, which is the outer Schengen border, in three days, if need be.

The senators recommended that the EU clarify the often discussed question of the guard’s deployment in a situation where a member country is incapable or unwilling to protect its border but opposes the entry of a EU unit.

The senators labelled as inappropriate the proposal that member countries be obliged to provide officers for joint operations even if they were faced with an emergency situation at home.

Opposition Civic Democrat (ODS) senator Tomas Grulich said the proposal was nothing but a cosmetic change to Frontex.

In reaction to him, Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) said it is “a little step along a long road, but a step in the right direction.”

“As long as Europe remains a region of prosperity, stability and peace, it will attract, like a magnet, the people who have fled war and also those who simply fare badly,” Sobotka (CSSD) told the senators.

“This will not change in a year or two, not even in ten years,” he said.

“In the years to come, we are capable of redirecting the migrant streams, but we are incapable of preventing them, unless stable security conditions are reached in the areas surrounding Europe,” Sobotka said.

He said mechanisms for the protection of the EU’s outer border on the sea are lacking. However, the outer Schengen border can also be protected on the continent. This was the aim of the Plan B, which supposed the establishment of a reserve Schengen border south of Hungary in case Greece, in cooperation with Turkey, failed to cope with its role, Sobotka said.

The back-up plan has been promoted by Prague and its allies in the Visegrad Four (V4) group, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

Nevertheless, the Czech Republic prefers a joint EU solution, Sobotka said when asked how the Plan B was promoted at the recent EU summit.

The senators appreciated NATO’s decision to help monitor the refugees crossing the sea on their way to Greece.

In a resolution approved on Wednesday, they said the migrant crisis can only be stemmed if its causes are removed, mainly if peace is achieved in the refugees’ home countries.

The resolution also calls for all members of the Czech government to present the government’s united approach to migration in their appearances at home and abroad.

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