Speeches

13. 5. 2015 21:15

Prime Minister Sobotka: The CR wants to continue to support EU aid for migration but rejects the setting of mandatory quotas

The Czech Republic, as well as the EU, is aware of the suffering and human tragedy of refugees who want to start a new and better life beyond the borders of their home countries. We do not wish to abandon our responsibility, on the contrary, we want to further intensify our efforts where we best know how to apply them in the area of migration.

This firstly concerns Czech aid for refugees in their place of current residence – i.e. as close as possible to their real homes, including support for countries which host these refugee populations (e.g. Jordan and Turkey). To this end we have established a special programme to assist refugees in their regions of origin, for which the Government is earmarking CZK 100 million annually, starting from this year. We must also remember that, although the majority of refugees now arriving in the European Union originate from Syria and Africa, to the east of the EU borders 1.5 million Ukrainians have been expelled from their homes. We have long experience of welcoming refugees from this part of Europe and I am proud of the fact that we can now claim to have successfully integrated them into Czech society.

At the same time, we are well aware that we must assist those countries most affected by the current wave of migrants. To this end, the Czech Republic offered around CZK 10 million to support the activities of the Frontex agency during the April European Council session, as well as one of its CASA aircraft with a crew and approved the immediate deployment of 60 Czech migration and asylum experts. At the same time, the Government is prepared to provide the necessary technical equipment – patrol vehicles, thermal imaging, and cadaver dog teams.

In addition, the Czech Republic has responsibly committed to assist refugees who were forced to abandon their homes because of armed conflicts and fears for their lives. This year the Czech Republic is welcoming a group of Syrian paediatric patients from Jordan and we are offering them top quality medical care. Last week we also approved scholarships for 20 Syrian refugees, who will be offered university education in the CR and will one day be able to help with the rebuilding of Syria.

The debate on migration is often restricted to the topic of resettlement. However, this only concerns a limited number of refugees, while producing no positive effect for the majority, who remain in refugee camps. The Czech Republic understands the voluntary acceptance of refugees as a measure of support in the current critical situation, where certain Member States are unable to respond to the influx of refugees. The Czech Republic rejects the setting of mandatory quotas. In these cases only the individual Member States are able to provide a qualified evaluation and to decide how many refugees they are able to provide shelter for, based on their economic, social and security situation. We support the right of countries to freely choose the scope of their solidarity, which we have also demonstrated by our decision to provide a home for a number of Syrian families.

Resettlement cannot resolve the cause of this recent tragedy, which is not located on the shores of Europe, but beyond them. The EU should therefore have the courage to deal with it effectively, but primarily at its source.

Bohuslav Sobotka, Prime Minister of the CR

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