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PM: Czechs show solidarity without Brussels having to force them

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Berlin, Dec 23 (CTK) – The Czech Republic shows solidarity in the migrant crisis without anyone having to force it, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said in an interview for the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, quoted by the German news agency dpa yesterday.
Sobotka criticised Germany´s contribution to the strengthening of the migrant wave and the effort of some countries to force solidarity on others by restricting access to the EU funds.
“We have sent police to Slovenia, to Hungary and to Macedonia. No one from Brussels has had to force us to do this,” Sobotka said.
Besides, the Czech Republic has sent humanitarian aid to Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia.
“We are ready to help, but only on a voluntary basis,” Sobotka said and added that the Czech government is trying to act pragmatically during the migrant crisis.
He said it cannot “unfortunately be denied” that Berlin is partially guilty for the high number of migrants coming to Europe.
“Germany has sent out a signal that could be heard and seen in a great part of the Middle East and North Africa. This encouraged migration to Europe,” Sobotka said.
Some criticise Chancellor Angela Merkel for having practically invited all Syrian asylum applicants to Germany.
Sobotka said the Czech Republic does not have any problem accepting migrants. “Some 110,000 Ukrainians live in the Czech Republic now. This is the strongest minority that has emerged after 1989 [when the communist regime fell]. These people came to us to work here and they have integrated very well,” Sobotka said.
He said the problem with the current migrant wave rests in that “a majority of the refugees come from entirely different spheres in terms of culture and religion,” which arouses fears of people in Central and East Europe against the background of Islamist terrorism.
Europe cannot provide aid at the cost of its own endangerment or at the cost of destruction of its own economic and social systems, Sobotka said.
He said the Czech Republic accepts the EU programme of a one-off redistribution of 160,000 migrants from Greece and Italy across other EU countries and it will not file a complaint against it.
But the pressure for a joint migrant policy directed centrally from Brussels only strengthens the radicals and harms the European idea, he added.
Sobotka said the system of redistribution of the migrants as such has proved to be inoperable. It is not possible to redistribute the people who do not want to end up in “eastern Poland or Romania” against their will.
Sobotka said the accepting of refugees right from camps in Turkey would be only possible under the condition that they will be included in the “approved, but non-functioning” quotas for redistribution within the EU.
The Czech government is trying to support European integration, Sobotka said.
People in the Czech Republic do not realise that “Europe could disintegrate and that it would have negative impacts on their lives, freedom and living standards,” Sobotka said.
In the interview Sobotka resolutely dismissed Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann´s statement that access to EU funds of the states that do not show a sufficient solidarity in the migrant crisis should be restricted.
“Such an argumentation only divides Europe. If we continue, gaps that will be difficult to bridge in the future will be dug,” Sobotka said.
A total of 1382 foreigners have applied for asylum in the Czech Republic in the first 11 months of the year, which is an increase of 425 on the same period of 2014. The biggest number of asylum applicants are Ukrainians, Cubans and Syrians. Asylum has as yet been granted to 70 applicants.

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