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Czech PM: Balkan border may be shut after next EU summit

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Prague, Feb 23 (CTK) – Europe must stop the migrant flow in the Western Balkans unless Greece does so, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told journalists on Tuesday and added that the Balkan migration routes could be stopped after the March EU summit already.

In that case, the EU should help Greece where thousands of migrants could get stuck, Sobotka said.

“I believe that we will have a relatively short time span for assessing how the migrant flow will develop. On the other hand, if the figures do not look well and if there is a trend towards their worsening, it would be high time to agree on further steps and measures to be taken with the aim of regulating migration, stemming illegal migration,” Sobotka told journalists.

He did not specify the forms of help to Greece across which a big part of the migrants are streaming to Europe. He said, however, it could be financial aid.

Sobotka said Turkey and Greece’s substantial decreasing of the numbers of incoming migrants will be of key importance in decision-making on the closure of the Balkan borders.

He said it is not possible that thousands of people flow to Europe every day like last spring and summer.

“Unless there is a substantial decrease in the numbers, we must proceed like Austria has started, which means reduce the numbers of accepted refugees because every reasonable migrant policy must have its rules, it must have its limits. We can only accept as many people as we are capable of integrating within Europe,” Sobotka said.

Sobotka on Tuesday talked by phone with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker about the preparation of the extraordinary EU-Turkey summit.

Sobotka pointed to the necessity of communication and cooperation with Turkey to halt the illegal economic migration.

“The EU-Turkey action plan must bring particular results as soon as possible, mainly in terms of a considerable reduction of the migrant flow across Greece to Europe, and the fight against the people-smugglers’ networks,” Sobotka said.

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