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LN: Former PM Špidla to head Czech-German group

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Prague, Nov 9 (CTK) – Former Czech prime minister Vladimir Spidla (Social Democrats, CSSD) will head a Czech-German working group with the task of bridging the gap formed between the two neighbouring countries with closely intertwined economies by the ongoing migrant crisis, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes yesterday.
German diplomacy has expressly asked for the nomination of Spidla, 64, since its believes that he will be able to blunt the anti-immigration rhetoric of some Czech government members, LN writes.
Spidla was Czech prime minister in 2002-2004 and European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities from 2004 to 2010.
Calming down the relations is important for the Czech Republic, too. In fact, even more than for Germans, LN writes.
As the growth in the Czech economy is closely linked with its neighbour’s well-being, the government of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) also needs the good relations with regard to the cooperation on large infrastructure projects, it adds.
The disagreement over the approach to the refugee wave means an unpleasant interference in the cross-border friendship, LN writes.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered open arms to the refugees and Germany insists on the mandatory redistribution of refugees within the EU, it adds.
Along with Hungary, Slovakia and Romania, the Czech Republic has rejected the refugee mandatory quotas.
“We considerably differ in the question of refugee quotas,” government spokesman Martin Ayrer is quoted as saying.
“It will be important to clear up why we see some things differently,” he added.
The plan is in its beginnings and it is being discussed who will take part in the meetings to deal with the migration questions, LN writes.
The pilot session of the group will take place before the end of the year, but its exact date has not yet been fixed, it adds.
It has not been decided who will be Spidla’s German opposite number either, too, LN writes.
The group’s meetings on migration are a part of an agreement on strategic dialogue signed by Czech Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD) and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier this summer, it adds.
Although Spidla is no expert in migration, Germans’ having asked for his nomination has its logic, LN writes.
As a former European commissioner he knows how politics is shaped in Brussels, including the Germans’ influence on its decision-making, it adds.
Above all, Spidla is an architect of the Czech Republic’s return to the European mainstream, LN writes.
This is the comeback Sobotka promised in his May lecture at Humboldt University in Berlin, it adds.

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