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Gov’t sends soldiers to Hungary, continues to reject quotas

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Prague, Oct 5 (CTK) – The Czech government approved Monday the sending of 25 soldiers and equipment to Hungary to help it guard the Schengen border over a period of two months and it continues to reject refugee quotas, the defence and interior ministers, Martin Stropnicky and Milan Chovanec, respectively, have said.

The government also approved a mandate for Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) for a meeting of the EU interior ministers on the migrant crisis in Luxembourg on Thursday, he told journalists.

He said he will continue to reject the emergence of a permanent mechanism of refugee redistribution across the EU.

Stropnicky (ANO) said the Czech soldiers should be deployed in Hungary from October 15 until December 15. They will mainly take engineers’ equipment to the country.

The Czech Republic also considers helping Hungary by sending further dozens of soldiers and police.

Chovanec said he wants to discuss the details with his counterparts from the Visegrad Four (V4) group that also includes Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

According to the mandate that the government approved for Chovanec Monday, he should also defend on Thursday the creation of a joint European list of safe countries and a reform of visa policy.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) said the ministers will also discuss an EU action plan for readmission policy.

“We are ready to support this action plan at the ministers’ talks because it is an important step towards a successful dealing with the current migrant crisis,” Sobotka said.

Chovanec told journalists that the Czech position does not change ahead of the Thursday meeting. “We have been saying the same for several months already,” he said.

He said the Czech government will again reject a permanent mechanism of refugees redistribution and will support measures to be taken in support of border protection and creation of hotspots.

Sobotka said there is no reason for the European Commission to be “rashly” pushing through the relocation mechanism now that it has not been possible to assess the impact of the previous decisions on mandatory quotas.

Chovanec said more countries are opposed to the permanent mechanism than were to the one-off redistribution based on quotas, which the interior ministers approved a fortnight ago.

He said he expects all the V4 countries to take a negative stance, “even though it is to be seen what Poland will do.”

Chovanec was hinting at that Poland did not honour the V4 agreement to reject the mandatory quotas.

The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania who were against the quotas were outvoted in September.

V4 representatives will meet still before the EU interior ministers start to fine-tune their joint position on Thursday.

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