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Personalities want gov’t to reassess approach to refugees

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Prague, Sept 18 (CTK) – Czech personalities linked to the November 1989 overthrow of the communist regime have called on the government, in a letter released to CTK, to meet its European commitments and reassess its “negativist” approach to the redistribution of refugees among EU members.

The authors of the letter, former ministers Michael Kocab and Jan Ruml, sociologist Ivan Gabal, political scientist Fedor Gal and journalist Jan Urban, write they believe that Prague’s current uncompromising approach to refugee redistribution may undermine the Schengen area and cause the EU to fall apart.

They call on Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) and the ministers to declare their readiness to accede to the redistribution of refugees in accordance with approved agreements.

“Our goal [in 1989] was to enhance unification and help remove polarisation. It is necessary to start cooperating, not to suppress cooperation and ally with others in doing so,” they wrote to the government.

Apart from Prague, the mandatory quotas have been rejected by Slovakia and reservations about them have been voiced by some other countries.

According to authors of the letter, the government should enhance Czech inhabitants’ self-confidence by truthfully informing them about the numbers of illegal migrants and asylum seekers who crossed the Czech Republic or stayed there in the past 20 years without threatening the state’s operation.

In informing the public about the developments, Czech ministers should not omit the aspect of human suffering, and they should emphasise countries’ moral duty to take special measures in face of so deep a human tragedy, the letter reads.

Without firmly-set rules and a carefully organised acceptance of refugees both by Schengen’s inland countries and along the outer border, the threat of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, chaos and security risks would arise, they warned.

“We ask the state representatives to fulfil their duties and not to transfer responsibility for their own mistakes, cowardice and inactivity onto the citizens and our – far more accommodating – partners from Germany, Austria and France, to whom we are and want to be equal,” they wrote.

The signatories of the letter, which has been addressed to Sobotka and the other ministers via Human Rights Minister Jiri Dienstbier (CSSD), include theologist Tomas Halik, political scientist Jiri Pehe, sociologist Jirina Siklova, artist Borek Sipek and senator and former Constitutional Court judge Eliska Wagnerova.

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