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Interior minister: Security is priority in tackling migration crisis

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Amsterdam, Jan 25 (CTK correspondent) – Security is a priority in tackling the migrant crisis now, Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) told Czech journalists on the margin of yesterday’s informal meeting of the EU interior ministers.
He said unless Greece succeeds in managing the migrant situation on its territory within a few weeks, the country might be expelled from the Schengen area of free movement.
Chovanec said the Czech Republic has long stressed that every EU member country must fulfil its duties and this also applies to Greece.
Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak told journalists that Greece is factually no longer a Schengen member country given its attitude to the migrant crisis.
He said he believes this despite the reassurances that the EU has no plan of expelling Greece from somewhere that were given by Natasha Bertaud, spokeswoman for the European Commission, yesterday.
Kalinak said a restriction of the personal freedom of the incoming migrants is one of the conditions of a successful managing of the crisis.
It must be possible to identify them and so restrict possible security risks, he said.
Chovanec said he does not believe the European Commission’s reassurance that hotspots will really start to operate on Greek territory within the next four weeks.
“It is utopia,” he said.
Chovanec said it is not possible either to rely in the long term on the agreement with Turkey, which the EU promoted as an essential part of the solution to the migrant crisis at the end of last year.
The Czech Republic as well as the three other countries of the Visegrad Four (V4), or Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, are ready to help Greece, Chovanec said.
However, it is not possible to tolerate a long-term failure of protection of the EU outer border, he said.
“A short-time expulsion of Greece” from the Schengen area and the establishment of a new barrier where the migrants could be detained and identified and those who do not have a right to asylum in the EU returned could be a reserve alternative, Chovanec said.
Chovanec spoke about reinforcing the protection of the border that Macedonia and Bulgaria share with Greece, about which Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) also spoke recently.

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