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KDU: ČR may accept 1000 refugees a year if it can choose them

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Prague, June 16 (CTK) – The Czech Republic may accept over 1000 refugees a year, provided that Prague could choose them itself and that they sought integration in Czech society, junior government Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) chairman Pavel Belobradek told journalists Tuesday.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) has warned that if the current refugee wave in the EU continued in the months to come, European social systems might collapse.

Quotas or increased controls at borders within the Schengen Area are no solution to the current crisis, Sobotka said.

It is necessary to stabilise the countries from which people are fleeing to the EU and to secure the outer border of the Schengen Area, he added.

“Europe is unable to cope with this stream of refugees,” Sobotka said.

“If this continues in the months to come, the European social systems may break down,” he added.

Other Czech parties, too, commented on the migration issue ahead of the start of the lower house session Tuesday.

The right-wing opposition TOP 09 is for the EU to raise the sum to be spent on tackling the immigration crisis.

The minor opposition Dawn movement, on its part, is for the tightening of checks along the Czech borders.

“I believe that the figure may reach over 1000 [accepted] migrants a year. The question is how strong the pressure will be and how big our capacity will be,” Belobradek said when asked how many refugees the Czech Republic may accept.

Later he mentioned a possible acceptance of several hundreds, up to one thousand immigrants a year.

Belobradek emphasised that this would have to be a voluntary decision of the Czech Republic, not its meeting of the EU’s binding quotas.

The Czech Republic should choose the refugees who would want to share the local values and life style and would be able to integrate in Czech society, Belobradek said.

Zbynek Stanjura, head of the opposition Civic Democrat (ODS) group of deputies, said he can imagine Prague’s annual acceptance of up to 1000 refugees.

Stanjura, too, stressed that the granting of asylum is the exclusive right of each country. The Czech Republic should enquire into what areas the migrants come from and how big their integration chances are, he said.

The Dawn movement has come up with quite a different proposal.

“It is the Czech government’s tragic failure that it fails to sharply tighten its control of the state borders,” Dawn deputy Martin Lank said.

“The only one who could protect us against illegal migrants are we ourselves,” he said.

Dawn deputy Marek Cernoch said the Czech Republic should take the same measures along the borders which Germany took during the G7 meeting a few weeks ago. The length of these measures and the idea of fully renewing the border checks as known from the pre-Schengen era is a matter of a discussion, Cernoch said.

TOP 09 said it is resolutely opposed to tightening the border controls.

“This problem can be solved only within the whole EU. Any closing of borders would endanger the Schengen system and cause a huge economic problem, a loss of hundreds of thousands of job position,” TOP 09 deputy chairwoman Helena Langsadlova said.

The opposition Communists (KSCM), too, are opposed to closing the EU’s internal borders.

KSCM MPs also said the party wants the decisions on refugees to be made on the national level.

Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD) said the preservation of the EU’s open internal borders is of a vital importance for the Czech Republic.

At the same time, he pointed out the importance of the protection of the EU’s external borders.

TOP 09 wants to propose at a meeting of European Parliament deputies’ groups’ heads next week that the EU raise the budget designed for tackling immigration, which now stands at 350 million euros, i.e. 0.25 percent of the EU budget.

The size of the increase would be up to EU members to agree on. However, the present sum does not correspond to the serious situation the EU is faced with, said TOP 09 deputy head Marek Zenisek.

The KDU-CSL, too, supports an increase in the relevant chapter of the EU budget.

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