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Zeman: European Council should be approving refugee quotas

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Prague, Sept 9 (CTK) – The European Council, that is the prime ministers of the EU member states, should deal with the migration agenda, including refugee quotas, which would enable the Visegrad Group (V4) countries to block nonsensical proposals, Czech President Milos Zeman said Wednesday.

The V4 is comprised of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

Zeman reacted to the European Commission’s (EC) proposals that its president Jean-Claude Juncker presented in the European Parliament (EP) Wednesday.

Juncker proposes a mandatory spread of another 120,000 refugees, who are now staying in Greece, Italy and Hungary, across EU member countries. The Czech Republic should accept another about 3,000 refugees, according to the EC’s proposal.

Together with a previous proposal, a total of 160,000 refugees should be spread, while the Czech Republic should accept 4300 migrants.

The opposition right-wing Civic Democrats (ODS) said the constant promotion of the mandatory refugee quotas only proved the EC’s helplessness as well as its arrogant stance of the national states.

“I would wish it very much that the migration issues, including migrant quotas, were successfully transferred to the level of the European Council, that is the level of the prime ministers, for the Czech Republic, but also the other Visegrad Four countries, to have a chance of blocking this, in my opinion, nonsensical proposal,” Zeman said.

It is nonsensical since despite the quotas, the migrants will be heading for Germany eventually, he explained.

“The attempt to detain them on our territory is slightly irrational,” he added.

“The quotas must be rejected not because we would not like or would not be able to look after 4000 people, but because they are no solution,” STAN chairman Petr Gazdik said.

The EU must seek a joint approach to the immigration wave and clearly say whom it will grant asylum and under what conditions, he said.

All EU member states should rather provide financial and organisational aid to help solve the situation, he added.

Freedom and Direct Democracy movement chairman Tomio Okamura called Juncker’s proposal an attack on the Czech Republic’s sovereignty.

“The demand for a compulsory redistribution of immigrants and the legalisation of immigration is a violation of the fundamental right of a sovereign country to decide whom it will allow to stay on its territory,” Okamura said.

If the government succumbs to the EU pressure and “tolerates the Islamisation of the country,” the movement will propose a no-confidence vote in the cabinet, he added.

Juncker also announced that the EC would propose the transformation of the Frontex agency into a real European service of the EU’s ground- and sea border protection by the end of the year. In addition, he presented the EU’s list of safe countries that would accelerate the handling of asylum applications by the EU countries.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) welcomed the fact that the EC in its new proposals did not focus on the promotion of the quotas only.

The Czech government calls for a strict protection of the Schengen border, the building of hotspots, the definition of safe countries and an efficient asylum and repatriation policy. Sobotka also spoke about the necessity to terminate the war conflicts in Syria and Libya and about development aid.

“The EU rules must be observed consistently and the countries must take steps in a united way and in the same direction,” Sobotka said in a statement.

The EU does not need discussions about new plans to solve the migration crisis any more, it must start acting, he added.

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