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Czech, Finnish PMs: European asylum system needs reform

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Helsinki, May 21 (CTK correspondent) – Migration is still a problem in Europe and the asylum system needs to be reformed, Finnish and Czech prime ministers, Juha Sipila and Andrej Babis, told a press conference after their talks in Helsinki on Monday.

Sipila said migration is one of the issues in which EU countries must make progress. He said the causes of migration must be dealt with.

“We agreed that we need a strong and functioning asylum system that will be resistant to future crises,” Babis said.

He said the Czech Republic is against the mandatory quotas for the redistribution of asylum seekers across Europe, but it is ready to help in the countries from which the migrants are coming.

In 2015, the interior ministers from EU countries approved temporary mandatory refugee quotas, although the Czech Republic and three other countries opposed this solution. Finland was the only country to abstain from the vote.

Sipila said Finland and Czechia have the same stance on some chapters of the EU budget. He mentioned agriculture, cohesion policy, support for digitisation and defence policy.

One of the ways of finding and promoting joint interests in the EU is to seek partners for negotiations, Babis and Sipila agreed.

In this context, they talked about a possible joint meeting of the Visegrad Group (Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia), the Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden) and the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania).

“We would discuss the European agenda because their opinions are close to our,” Babis told journalists later on Monday.

Babis has invited Sipila to Prague.

Sipila and Babis took part in a Finnish-Czech business forum this morning.

During Babis’s visit to Finland, the Czech firm Skoda Transportation completed the purchase of the Finnish tram maker TransTech. Skoda Transportation had a majority stake in TransTech from 2015.

Babis spent two days in Finland. He said before his trip he wants to get acquainted with the Finnish education system. He visited an elementary school and a university there.

Five years ago, Czech prime minister Petr Necas visited Finland. The last Finnish prime minister to arrive in the Czech Republic was Matti Vanhanen in 2008.

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