Speeches

13. 6. 2017 23:09

Comments by PM Bohuslav Sobotka on European Commission's objections

Since the beginning of the migration crisis, the Czech Republic has spoken in a clear and comprehensible voice. Our main goal has been to promote functioning measures that would lead to a lasting solution of mass illegal migration and that would ensure the security of citizens of European countries. We have been helping the most affected Member States and third countries on the basis of solidarity, providing financial, technical and personal assistance. We are ready to continue in our efforts. Facing the refugee crisis, the Czech Republic has been one of the most active countries, present at the conflict sites and in the countries along main migratory routes. Czech experts have been helping directly in Greece and Italy. Our police officers have taken part in border patrolling in Hungary, Slovenia or the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We have also been sending material and financial assistance to Serbia and Croatia. Our soldiers serve both in Afghanistan and Mali, we send ammunition and weapons to fight the Daesh/IS, and we provide humanitarian aid directly in Syria and refugee camps in the surrounding countries. We have also financially supported the formation of the Libyan Coast Guard.

Nevertheless, we are now facing a dispute with the European Commission over the quota mechanism. The Czech Republic pointed out already in September 2015, when both relocation decisions were approved, that there are many difficulties connected with their realisation. The development over the two last years proved us right, as it showed that mandatory refugee relocation quotas are not working as they rather act as an incentive for illegal migration to Europe.

The European Commission has – despite our warnings – underestimated the explosive effect hidden in something as sensitive as a directive decision-making on the allocation of refugees in individual Member States. A negligible percentage of effectively relocated persons, as well as the fact these persons have not often remained in their Member State of allocation and left to look for a better life in economically more developed Member States, clearly demonstrate that the whole system of relocations does not fulfil its purpose.

The level of citizens' confidence in the EU and their willingness to support the European Idea has decreased significantly during the migration crisis. Under the current circumstances of multiple security threats we cannot put their trust at stake. Unfortunately, the European Union did so by promoting quotas instead of putting safety of our citizens first.

From the very beginning the Czech Republic has called for addressing the crisis by significantly strengthened protection of the EU's external borders, orderly checks and by assisting the refugees in situ, preventing them from dangerous journeys to Europe. During the last year we have, fortunately, taken a number of effective steps at EU level, e.g. implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, launching of the European Border and Coast Guard or the Migration Partnership Framework with third priority countries. In spite of the progress made, the European Commission adheres blindly to the enforcement of non-functioning quotas that have lowered citizens' confidence in the EU's capacity to act and hindered effective and conceptual solution of the migration crisis.

The Czech Republic does not agree with the redistribution system according to refugee quotas. In view of the deteriorated security situation in Europe, as well as the failure of the quota system, the Czech Republic will not participate in the mechanism. We are ready to defend our position within the EU and in front of relevant judicial institutions.

Bohuslav Sobotka, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic

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