The EU has upheld the Visegrad Four (V4) group’s position by including the closure of the Balkans route to illegal migration in the draft final conclusions of the EU-Turkey summit yesterday, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on arrival at the summit.
Brussels, March 7 (CTK correspondent) – The EU has upheld the Visegrad Four (V4) group’s position by including the closure of the Balkans route to illegal migration in the draft final conclusions of the EU-Turkey summit yesterday, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on arrival at the summit.
The V4 is comprised of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
Sobotka said he considers it important for Europe to say that the way across the Balkans countries is not open.
It is also crucial that Ankara should cooperate in the readmission economic migrants and with NATO’s anti-smuggler mission in the Aegean Sea, he said.
“I am very glad that the draft conclusions of the meeting of the EU countries’ leaders include a sentence saying that the Balkans route is being closed to illegal migration,” Sobotka said.
The V4 has been promoting the closure for a long time, he said.
“The [summit] conclusions, as prepared for now, reflect what the V4 countries have been saying for several months,” Sobotka said.
He said the debate on the Balkans route’s closure will be one of the conflict points at the summit, but still he considers the step important.
“It is a necessary condition for the EU to bring the situation under control,” Sobotka said, referring to the refugee wave.
He admitted that the closure of the Balkans route would increase the pressure on Greece. The EU should be ready to help the Greeks, both financially and in terms of staff, he said.
The concentration of refugees in Greece should speed up the full launch of the refugee relocation according to the quotas on which the EU states agreed last year, Sobotka continued.
The Czech Republic pledged to accept almost 1,600 refugees.
Prague will fulfil the commitment though it has been opposed to the quotas mechanism, Sobotka said.
“We respect what has been agreed within the EU, but we do not want to increase these commitments,” he said.
He ruled out Prague’s joining the countries that are considering relocating refugees from Turkey.
“We do not support the relocation from Turkey, because it would be another incentive for refugees to try to reach Turkey,” Sobotka said.
Sobotka said the EU leaders and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu must clarify their positions yesterday and confirm their willingness to fulfil the action plan on which they agreed last November.
The plan binds Turkey to reduce the number of migrants who leave it for Greece via the Aegean Sea.
Ankara must start readmitting the economic migrants who are not eligible for asylum in Europe, Sobotka said.
He said the Turks still fail to fully cooperate with the NATO sea mission aimed to help fighting people-smugglers.
“I hope that the Turkish prime minister will send a positive sign yesterday and that the NATO operation will be able to continue without problems,” Sobotka said.