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MfD: Prague’s image in EU worsens unjustly over quota dispute

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Prague, Sept 24 (CTK) – The Czech battle against the refugee quotas was unnecessary, could not be won and should not have been fought at all, Lubos Palata writes in Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) Thursday, adding that Prague’s reputation in the EU has worsened undeservedly as a result of the dispute.

The Czechs should not have battled against the quotas, or they should not have done so until the bitter end, Palata writes in reaction to the approval of the quotas for refugee redistribution by a majority of EU members, who outvoted the opposing Prague, Bratislava, Budapest and Bucharest.

The reputation of Prague, the quota opponents’ leader, has worsened unrightfully in the eyes of the EU. When the first quotas package was discussed in spring, the Czechs were the only Central European country to offer the voluntary acceptance of more refugees than what the quotas were to impose on them, Palata writes.

The hysteria that has burst out over the quotas in the Czech Republic, and that even intensified after the EU’s approval of the quotas on Tuesday, will for a long time hamper the Czech cabinet’s return to rational pro-European stances, not only on refugees, Palata writes.

It is good that the Czech cabinet of Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) does not want to continue battling against the quotas that bind the Czech Republic to accept nearly 5,000 asylum seekers, Palata writes.

Someone should tell the scared Czech public that Prague actually “won” the dispute in Brussels on Tuesday, because the mandatory quotas were not approved as permanent, and the redistribution of further refugees will be subject to a new vote, Palata writes.

Someone should also explain to Czech people that the quotas have not been initiated by Germany and other EU states in an effort to get rid of refugees. Their chief goal is to force Italy, and mainly Greece, to start fulfilling their role of Schengen border countries and registering the incoming migrants properly, Palata writes.

In the past months, which have elapsed since the spring rejection of the EC’s first quotas package, Rome and mainly Athens have been letting the inflowing refugees proceed further inland the EU without taking the least efforts at their registration. They have done so out of fear that hundreds of thousands of migrants could get stuck in Italy and Greece, Palata says.

Of course, the adoption of the quotas will not guarantee that the Greeks and Italians will start fulfilling their commitments. Nevertheless, the quotas are a necessary condition for the two countries to start doing so, Palata writes,

Further steps aimed to stem the inflow of migrants or slow it down at least were discussed by the European Council summit last night, which, fortunately, did not have to deal with the quotas any more, Palata writes.

As a result of its vehement opposition to the quotas, the Czech Republic has become a part of a strange group of countries dominated by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Palata continues.

The Czech Republic, which signed a strategic partnership agreement with Germany a couple of months ago, should consider the situation it finds itself in. If the Czechs want to belong to Western Europe rather than the Balkans, they should consider what they did wrong in the past weeks, Palata concludes.

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