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Prague to give CZK 24 million to Libyan coast guard operation

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Prague, July 24 (CTK) – The Czech Republic will give 24 million crowns to the Libyan coast and naval guard’s operation, which makes Prague the largest contributor among the EU countries, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has tweeted, citing the cabinet’s decision on Monday.

“The Czech Republic has become the EU’s largest contributor to the operation of the Libyan coast and naval guard, for which the cabinet earmarked 24 million crowns today,” Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) wrote.

“By financially supporting the Libyan coast and naval guard, we contribute to tackling migration in the Mediterranean and help mainly Italy,” Sobotka wrote.

Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD) said detention facilities need to be built on the Libyan coast so that the local coast and naval guard can get fully in control of the situation in the area, from which the refugees heading for Europe set sail.

This seems to be the hardest task connected with the solution to migration from Africa, Zaoralek said.

Most of the earmarked sum, 20.9 million crowns, will be provided by the Interior Ministry.

The Government Office will add the remaining 3.1 million.

Sobotka mentioned the plan to financially support the coast guard’s operation in Libya, from where economic migrants have been illegally heading to the EU, via Italy, at a meeting of the Visegrad Four (V4) leaders in Budapest last week.

“The advantage of the Libyan coast guard is that it can return refugees back to the Libyan coast if it detains a boat with them,” Sobotka said in Budapest.

By its decision on Monday, the Czech government reacted to the request from Italy that is exposed to migrant pressure most of all.

Prague and its V4 partners, i.e. Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, sent a letter to Italy, offering help to it.

However, Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni reacted saying that Italy will not allow itself to be taught lessons. He called for all EU members to fulfil their duties.

V4 leaders have repeatedly been criticised for rejecting the EU-approved refugee quotas aimed to distribute immigrants evenly across the EU.

Czech leaders emphasise that Prague disagrees with the quotas, but it actively assists in securing the EU’s outer border and providing aid to migrants’ original home and transit countries.

Last year, the Czech Republic was one of the 12 countries that voluntarily supported the training of the Libyan coast and naval guards within an EU mission. The Czechs provided one million crowns for the project.

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