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Czechs to demand protection of EU border at Maltese summit

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Prague, Nov 9 (CTK) – Prague will promote a more consistent protection of the outer EU border and agreements with Africa and Turkey at the upcoming EU summit on migration in Malta, Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek and Tomas Prouza, state secretary for European affairs (both Social Democrats, CSSD), told reporters yesterday.
A more effective border patrolling would prevent smugglers from profiting from illegal migration, Zaoralek said after the cabinet meeting that approved the Czech officials´ mandate at the summit.
To be held on Wednesday and Thursday, the summit will be attended by representatives of the African countries from which refugees are coming to Europe.
The Czech Republic will be represented by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) and Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Belobradek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL).
The EU members should do something “against the fact that we have been contributing to [people smugglers] gaining money through organised crime,” Zaoralek said.
“We should be able to secure an effective outer border protection and [migrant] registration that would enable us to control the developments,” Zaoralek said.
The EU countries want to achieve the goal by enhancing the powers of the European agency for border protection (Frontex).
Prouza said the Malta negotiations should result in Frontex having a higher budget as well as its own staff and equipment.
At present, Frontex has had to formally ask the EU member states for everything.
“Frontex should have a markedly broader mandate not only in the border protection but also in returning illegal refugees, i.e. those who failed to gain asylum,” Prouza said.
In future, European countries might create a joint border border protection corps. This step, however, requires a change to the EU basic treaties, which is a complex and time-consuming process. Nevertheless, the Frontex-related changes should be implemented within a few months, Prouza said.
Prague´s other priority at the Malta summit is the signing of cooperation agreements between the EU and Turkey and the EU and selected African countries.
An agreement with Turkey should not focus on financial aid only, but also on Ankara´s request for visa-free relations with the EU and a progress in the EU-Turkey association talks, Prouza said.
He said up to two thirds of EU countries, including the Czech Republic, are for the EU visa duty to be lifted for the Turks.
“The Czech Republic supports the lifting of the visa requirement, but there are many countries to which this means a historical problem,” Prouza admitted.
He said Turkey wants to enter the EU and its leaders seek progress in Ankara´s EU accession talks.
“Turkey is raising its price because it knows we need it,” Prouza said. “We will probably have to define our limits in this respect,” he added.
At the summit, the EU leaders are to establish a fund in aid of Africa, to which the Czechs will also contribute.
“We are ready to help them through development programmes that would create conditions in their respective countries, so that people do not have to leave [for abroad],” Zaoralek said.
The Czech cabinet decided last week that it will send 16 million crowns to the fund for Africa.
Invitations to the summit have been sent to the EU members and the African countries that are members of the Rabat and Khartoum Process, representatives of the African Union Commission, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations and the International Office for Migration.
EU interior ministers are discussing the migrant crisis in Brussels yesterday. Cooperation with Turkey and an improvement in EU cooperation in the sphere of border protection and asylum procedures are on the agenda of the meeting.
($1=24.892 crowns)

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