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Czech PM: Prague against shared responsibility for saved migrants

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Prague/Brussels, June 28 (CTK) – The Czech Republic will reject the Italian demand that all EU member countries bear part of the responsibility for migrants saved in the Mediterranean Sea, Prime Minister Andrej Babis told journalists before leaving for the two-day EU summit that started in Brussels later on Thursday.

Babis said no ships with migrants should sail from the African coast to Europe. It is up to Italy, Greece, Spain and Malta to secure the protection of the EU’s southern border, he said.

“We will insist on that the people who migrate to Europe should be helped in their home countries. We cannot save the whole planet. We must prevent illegal migration and the measures are simple,” Babis said.

He said the Australian model of dealing with migration was inspiring.

Despite the marked decrease in the number of incoming migrants this year, migration will be a hot issue at the EU summit mainly because its tackling has become a matter of controversy in Germany.

“The problem of Europe is that most statesmen concede that migrants are flowing to our countries and we must accept them,” Babis said.

If European politicians are incapable of solving the migrant affairs radically, anti-migration and radical parties and movements may get stronger in the 2019 elections to the European Parliament, he added.

Babis said the core of the problem with migration now seems to be that it is a highly profitable business for organised crime groups. “Europol declares that people smugglers gained 2.7 billion euros in 2016. This is the key problem. It is the smugglers who decide on who comes to Europe because it is their business,” he said.

The people sailing to Europe paid for their hope for a better life, but there will be no better life for them because the situation in European countries is markedly changing, Babis said.

Shortly before the beginning of the summit, Babis and the three other prime ministers of the Visegrad Group (V4) countries will have talks with French President Emmanuel Macron. Babis previously said he wanted to talk with Macron about the French opposition to EU enlargement and the recent French unfortunate statements about migration.

Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, which form the V4 group, did not take part in an EU mini-summit on migration held last Sunday. The French government spokesman said such boycott was no good for the forthcoming EU summit that opened on Thursday.

In Brussels, the political leaders of the EU countries are expected to debate migration until late at night. The summit is to agree on a new attitude to migrants saved in the Mediterranean Sea. Instead of being escorted to European ports, the saved migrants would be returned to the African coast where it should be promptly decided whether they may apply for asylum in the EU or would be returned to their country of origin.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is to negotiate about defence and security cooperation at the EU summit.

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