Prague, Oct 2 (CTK) – Representatives of Czech NGOs are convinced that the refugee-sharing quotas may work, since not all refugees are heading for Germany or Sweden, and some would prefer staying in the Czech Republic if they learnt something about the country and were worked with as needed, Martin Rozumek has said.
Rozumek, head of the Czech Organisation for Aid to Refugees, said the EU leaders will probably discuss new quotas in a couple of months again unless the situation in the turbulent regions calms down.
The Czech government and the Chamber of Deputies are opposed to the refugee quotas.
The EU interior ministers are to discuss the possible introduction of a permanent refugee relocation mechanism on October 8. The mechanism, proposed by the EC, would enable to relocate asylum seekers from the overburdened countries to elsewhere in the EU.
The NGOs’ representatives say the quotas should mainly help the overburdened EU states which fail to cope with the situation. The Czech Republic, too, should provide aid, they say.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (both Social Democrats, CSSD), however, have repeatedly said it is impossible to place refugees in countries where they do not want to stay, such as the Czech Republic.
“In Greece, where hotspots are situated, people get stuck for many years. They can neither proceed farther nor can they return home. If the Czech asylum policy were less tough and if a careful selection were made and the people were told that the situation in the Czech Republic is not that bad, it would work. Far from all refugees have relatives in Germany or Sweden,” Rozumek said.
The NGOs say the Czech government rejects the quotas without offering any other solution.
The cabinet speaks about the need to better protect the EU’s outer border, and it wants to provide the relevant experts.
“I am not surprised at the Italians and Hungarians having de facto refused our [Prague’s] help. A team of two or three Czech experts looks ridiculous in a situation where [these countries] are faced with 120,000 or 170,000 migrants a year,” Rozumek said.
“They want to hear how we will share the burden, while the Czech Republic continues to refuse this,” he said, adding that the EU rules benefit the Czech Republic, which has the EU’s outer border at airports only.
According to the NGOs, a permanent relocation mechanism would be better than one-off quotas.
It is not necessary to grant a permanent asylum status. Asylum may be granted only for the time of the conflict in the applicants’ home countries. Afterwards, the refugees would return home, Rozumek said.
“We had the same experience with the people from Kosovo. In their case, the temporary stay status worked effectively,” he added.
According to Vladislav Guenter, head of the Foreigners’ Integration Center, the Czech Republic is a part of the EU, which is why it cannot shun responsibility for help to and integration of foreigners.
The ten-million Czech Republic is ready to cope with a big wave of immigrants. It proved this in the past, when it provided refuge to thousands of people fleeing the fights in the former Yugoslavia, Guenter said.
However, Prague is reluctant to help people from a different part of the world, he said, adding that the atmosphere in Czech society has been mainly changing “from below,” with help being offered by ordinary people.