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3. 2. 2017 17:23

Prime Minister Sobotka: EU leaders’ agreement will help to quell illegal migration in the Mediterranean

Summit of heads of government and state during the Maltese presidency, 3 February 2017.
Summit of heads of government and state during the Maltese presidency, 3 February 2017.
Today, at the informal summit in Valletta, Malta, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and other EU leaders discussed enhanced cooperation with Libya and the development of partnerships with other North African countries to curb illegal migration in the Mediterranean. In their joint declaration, the Member States’ heads of state and government made the commitment to counter people smugglers, support Libyan border guards and provide assistance in the building of capacities for refugees.

Last year, the European Union successfully stemmed the flow of illegal migration in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Balkans. The EU entered into a fruitful agreement with Turkey and launched the European Border and Coast Guard project. In the coming months, Europe will concentrate on the Central Mediterranean, which is a gateway for illegal migration.

Before the year was out, the training of the Libyan coast guard was commenced – with active support from the Czech Republic – under the auspices of the EU.

“The Czech Republic actively contributes to the training of the Libyan coast guard. In the initial stage of the project, we donated more than a million crowns, and this financial support is set to continue. Czech experts also work directly at the mission’s headquarters. This is a key solution to halting illegal migration in the Mediterranean. Today, my European colleagues and I also agreed to steadfastly tackle people smugglers, to support Libya in the protection of the southern border, and to assist in the building of capacities for refugees,” said Czech Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

Besides training the Libyan coast guard, the Czech Government plays an active role in development assistance bound for African countries.

“In the past two years, the Czech Republic has backed projects in Africa to the tune of more than CZK 40 million. We will continue this assistance so that African countries are able to mount resistance to illegal migration and so that the people who live here do not need to leave their homes,” added Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.

In Malta, EU leaders also discussed transatlantic cooperation against the backdrop of the inauguration of the new US president. The US remains an important ally for Europe and in the coming months we have to work on a host of common interests, including the fight against terrorism, the relationship with Russia and efforts to stave off illegal migration.

The informal summit will end with a discussion on the future of European integration in the EU27 format. European statesmen will negotiate preparations for the March summit in Rome, where Europe will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the founding treaties. The Czech Government’s priorities regarding the future direction to be taken by the EU are to enhance internal security, intensify Member States’ defence cooperation, and to ensure the economic and social security of European citizens.

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