Prague, June 29 (CTK) – The refugees’ interest in asylum in the Czech Republic is very low and the country will soon have to lure “quality” immigrants again to soften the impact of its population ageing, Jiri Sticky writes in daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) Monday.
The latest reports on police raids on illegal foreigners detained in trains and coaches and the plans to protect the border from the immigrant wave make a false impression that crowds of foreigners are heading for the Czech Republic and the number of refugees there is record high.
However, reality is completely different – the Czech Republic is one of the least attractive European countries for refugees, Sticky said.
In 2013, the Czech Republic with some 10.5 million inhabitants reported the record low number of only 700 asylum applicants, while last year it was less than 1200 and this year about 1600 are expected, which would be the same as in 2008, Sticky says, referring to statistics.
Only 15 years ago, the Czech Republic dealt with some 18,000 asylum seekers from the former Yugoslavia and Soviet Union without problems, he recalls.
At present, the far strongest group of asylum seekers are Ukrainians, followed by Syrians, Russians, Vietnamese and Cubans, that is mainly people from the countries that had some relations with the Czech Republic, respectively the then Czechoslovakia, under the previous regime, he adds.
According to data from the European Statistical Office, the Czech Republic has been the tenth least attractive country in the absolute number of asylum applications and the fifth if calculated per capita.
In 12 months as of the end of March 2015, only 0.17 percent of all asylum seekers in the EU applied for it in the Czech Republic, Sticky writes.
He points out that the Czech Republic has no outer Schengen border, unlike the neighbouring Slovakia. The asylum process in the Czech Republic is lengthy with a low chance of success and asylum seekers must nor work during the first year in the Czech Republic.
The pay level and its accessibility still play a major role in the decision-making where to settle down. In this respect, the Czech Republic is no attractive destination compared with Western Europe, Sticky say.
He writes that another, long-term aspect of immigration should be taken into consideration. The Czech Republic has been ageing quickly due to its low birthrate and increasing life expectancy.
According to a demographic forecast, the average age in the Czech Republic will rise from 41 to 50 in 50 years, while the number of people over 65 years and more will almost double.
The number of inhabitants of the Czech Republic will start decreasing in the following years – by 1.5 million in 50 years and by the end of the century by three million if the country accepts 10,000 to 20,000 immigrants a year.
In ten to 15 years, the Czech Republic will have do solve urgent problems with the care of the elderly as well as the system of old-age pensions, Sticky says.
He also points out that the Czechs qualified in mobile and highly demanded professions are leaving abroad, while it is difficult to find applicants for unattractive and poorly paid jobs, especially in cities, such as Prague where immigrants, most often from Ukraine, take such jobs.
The programme to attract qualified immigrants launched by the government of Vladimir Spidla (2002-2004) a few years ago ended primarily due to the lack of interest of educated people, largely from post-communist countries, in moving to the Czech Republic.
The current fear of foreigners resembles the fear of the unknown most of all. The generation of current children who have met their peers from mixed families as well as children of economic and political immigrants in kindergarten will have a more rational and pragmatic approach to foreigners than older generations, Sticky writes in conclusion.