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Czech government insisting on rejection of EU migrant quotas

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Prague, June 13 (CTK) – The Czech government insists on not participating in the redistribution of migrants according to the quotas on which EU countries have agreed, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) told journalists on Tuesday.

He said the Czech Republic had prepared arguments with which to defend its stance even if the European Commission opened legal cases against it over the violation of the EU rules.

At the moment, the Czech Republic is not threatened with any fine, Sobotka said.

“As a government, we are firmly set not to take part in the redistribution, not to take part in the system of mandatory quotas,” Sobotka said.

“If any legal cases are opened against the Czech Republic, we will be ready to defend our position and present the arguments of why the road of mandatory quotas is wrong,” Sobotka said.

Hungary, Poland and Slovakia are also against the redistribution of migrants from Greece and Italy.

Despite the opposition of some its members, the EU agreed on the redistribution quotas in 2015. However, the Central European countries refuse to fulfil the commitment.

Sobotka said the Czech government was ready to conduct a dialogue with the EU and to explain its stance.

“Within the debate, we will advocate our attitudes, our views, we will defend the Czech Republic’s position. I do not think at the moment the Czech Republic is threatened with any fines,” he added.

Experts estimate the fine at up to 250 million crowns for the violation of the quotas and money from EU funds may be stopped, too.

The Czech Republic should show solidarity in the common effort to cope with the migration crisis as it accepts aid from the European Union, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said during his visit to Prague last week.

Speaking at a conference on the EU future in Prague, former prime minister of Italy Massimo d’Allema criticised some European countries for not being ready to respect the agreed quotas, but he did not name any.

The migration flows have to be dealt with according to the international law which says that refugees fleeing a war have to be accepted, d’Allema said.

It cannot be tolerated that some EU members disrespect international law because this is opposed to the EU basic values, he added.

D’Allema stressed that at the time of the culminating migrant crisis, Germany had accepted over one million people.

It cannot be justified if some countries are reluctant to accept some thousands of people, he added.

The migrant crisis will only be resolved if its burden is redistributed among EU countries, d’Allema said.

Sobotka said he believed the quota system was not a solution that would ease the migrant pressure.

“We believe that as it was prepared, the redistribution system is a sort of incentive for illegal migration. In our view, Europe should not follow this path,” Sobotka said.

The Czech Republic has taken only 12 refugees from Greece, although it ought to accept about 2,600 people by September according to the quotas.

The Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary were outvoted at a meeting of the EU countries’ interior ministers in Brussels in September 2015 that approved the redistribution of 160,000 refugees across the EU on the basis of mandatory quotas to help Italy and Greece that were hit by the migrant crisis most of all.

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