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Czech PM: Turkey must meet visa-free regime conditions

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Prague, May 3 (CTK) – The EU’s visa regime with Turkey can be liberalised only if Ankara duly meets all benchmarks, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said on Twitter on Tuesday.

Sobotka also said his cabinet rejected not only the migrant quotas, but also the fines for not fulfilling them, proposed by the European Commission (EC).

The right-wing opposition is also against the EC’s proposals.

The government of the CSSD, ANO and the Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) has long opposed the quotas for re-distribution of migrants across the EU and Sobotka on Tuesday confirmed this position.

According to the EC’s prepared proposal, the EU countries will have a chance of buying out themselves of the duty to accept asylum seekers from another member state in the case of a crisis.

Such a “ransom” sum is actually considered a fine or punishment for an EU member state.

The Financial Times has written about 250,000 euros per each asylum applicant whom a country would refuse to accept.

The EC will also support the EU’s “conditional” consent to a visa-free regime with Turkey, BBC has reported.

Petr Fiala, leader of the opposition Civic Democratic Party (ODS), said on Tuesday the opposition rejected the visa-free contact between EU and Turkey as it might pose a security risk.

This is another case when rules are not observed in the EU, TOP 09 deputy chairman Marek Zenisek has said.

ANO also insists on Turkey fulfilling all the conditions routinely demanded.

The liberalisation of the visa contact is a part of a March deal between the EU and Turkey. Based on it, Turkey has considerably reduced the number of migrants sailing from Turkey to Greek islands.

Sobotka said such liberalisation can be taken into consideration only if Turkey met all conditions.

Some observers have suggested that Turkey did not fulfil the criteria of the visa-free contact, which is the freedom of speech, a fair judiciary and the protection of minorities.

Zenisek said these shortcomings were of major importance.

“An insufficient observance of the rules on which EU members themselves had agreed has been one of the main problems in the EU in the past years,” Zenisek said.

“The proposed conditional agreement with the visa-free contact, although Ankara has not met the conditions such as the freedom of speech and a fair judiciary, is a continuation of this state of affairs,” he added.

Last week, the ODS unveiled its proposal to deal with the migrant crisis.

The chance to exclude the states unable to protect the outer EU border from the Schengen area is its crucial point.

Promising the visa-free contact to Turkey while it is not fulfilling the conditions is bad, Fiala said.

“Turkey can become a comfortable entry gate for militants heading for Europe,” Fiala said.

In March, the Chamber of Deputies European affairs committee asked the government to reject the visa-free contact with Turkey. It said the protection of the outer Schengen border was the prime task of the governments of EU countries.

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