Prague, June 24 (CTK) – The European Union should tackle lowering the influx of refugees, not quarrel about quotas for their redistribution across the EU, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said at a press conference after his talks with his Czech counterpart Lubomir Zaoralek today.
Gabriel said Germany and the Czech Republic still differ on the refugees’ redistribution, but that he has”better and more deeply comprehended the Czech Republic’s reserved stance” on the mandatory quotas.
“The problem does not rest in quotas and in what we are quarrelling about, but in what we will do in the next decades to markedly reduce the movement of refugees,” Gabriel said.
“While we in Europe are squabbling about how many refugees we will accept, more and more people are setting in motion in Africa because they live in disastrous conditions,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Mediterranean across which people are trying to get to Europe has become a “large cemetery,” Gabriel said.
The Czech Republic has long refused mandatory quotas for the redistribution of refugees in Europe. It prefers providing aid in crisis regions.
Zaoralek said after the meeting with Gabriel that the government has just approved raising the sum for Czech development aid abroad.
This will allow it to concentrate more on the countries from which refugees are coming to Europe. The Czech Republic wants to support the building of infrastructure, the ensuring of water and jobs for people in the affected areas, Zaoralek said.
“We probably hold different stances, but it is valuable that we are ready to talk about the issue. We are aware of that the problem must be solved jointly. There are many points on which we can agree,” Zaoralek said.
Gabriel also said he and Zaoralek did not reach agreement on how to deal with the problem.
“I now better and more deeply comprehend why the Czech side takes such a reserved stand on the mandatory quotas,” Gabriel said.
He said in his talks with Zaoralek, he learnt a lot about why the Czech Republic perceives the quotas as something that is almost equal to interference in its national sovereignty.
The European Commission has started proceedings against the Czech Republic and other Visegrad Four (V4) countries, Hungary and Poland in this respect.
Gabriel said Germany was also often a subject of similar proceedings over breaching European rules.
“We won sometimes, but we often lost. There is nothing strange about that a national state gets into conflict with the EU over a breach of treaties,” Gabriel said.
Gabriel met Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka at a dinner last last night.
After their talks today, Gabriel and Zaoralek left for Beroun, central Bohemia, which is a twin town of Goslar, Germany, Gabriel’s native town.
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