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CzechRep wants to accept 1,500 refugees by 2017

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Prague, July 8 (CTK) – The Czech Republic wants to accept 1500 refugees by 2017, the cabinet decided Wednesday and asked Interior Minister Milan Chovanec to present the plan at a meeting of EU ministers on Thursday, Deputy PM Pavel Belobradek told journalists during the cabinet meeting.

The Czech Republic plans to accept the first refugees in September, Belobradek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) said.

It will be a one-off action of solidarity, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) said.

Belobradek said the Czech Republic would accept 1100 refugees from Italy and Greece, and “400 from outside the EU, who stay in horrible conditions in refugee camps mainly in Jordan, Kurdistan and Syria.”

The cabinet wants to negotiate with the EU about the regime of returning the refugees who failed to gain Czech asylum, Belobradek said.

He said the mandate Chovanec will present on behalf of Prague at the meeting on Thursday does not include any selection criteria.

Nevertheless, in view of the high number of migrants, certain limitations in this respect will have to be set, he said.

The Czech Republic will send experts to the refugee camps in order to launch asylum proceedings with the migrants, Belobradek added.

Tomas Prouza, Czech state secretary for European affairs, said on Twitter that the Czech Republic will choose the refugees to be accepted.

Sobotka said he views the one-off partial redistribution of refugees as Prague’s “necessary help in the present crisis situation, which corresponds to the capacities of the Czech Republic, but not as a solution to the migration problem Europe is faced with.”

He said the EU must now primarily focus on securing an appropriate effectiveness of the Schengen border and implementing the policy of returning illegal economic migrants.

It is also necessary to resolutely crack down on people-smugglers’ networks and stabilise the countries from where the migration wave comes, including the building of facilities for asylum seekers outside the EU, Sobotka said.

Chovanec (CSSD) said that some 60 percent of refugees fail to be granted asylum in the Czech Republic.

On Thursday, Chovanec will present the Czech decision at an informal meeting of EU countries’ interior and justice ministers.

The EU is trying to solve the wave of immigrants in the southern member states by proposing ways to redistribute them among the other member countries. At the June summit, the member countries rejected the idea of mandatory quotas and said they want the acceptance of refugees to remain on the voluntary basis.

EU members should divide 40,000 refugees from Italy and Greece among themselves in two years.

In addition, the EU plans to accept 20,000 refugees from refugee camps outside Europe, who are entitled to international legal protection.

According to the EC’s original proposal, the Czech Republic was to accept about 1850 refugees this and next year.

In the case of the refugees redistributed from Italy and Greece, they would be asylum seekers. If accepted by the Czech Republic, they would be placed in detention facilities for their asylum procedure to be completed.

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