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Czech figures active in 1989 transition call on Gov't to reassess its position on refugee redistribution

19.9.2015 2:29
The authors of a letter on 18 September 2015 calling on the Czech Government to reconsider EU quotas for refugee redistribution, from top left:  Michael Kocáb, Fedor Gál, Jan Urban, Ivan Gabal and Jan Ruml.
The authors of a letter on 18 September 2015 calling on the Czech Government to reconsider EU quotas for refugee redistribution, from top left: Michael Kocáb, Fedor Gál, Jan Urban, Ivan Gabal and Jan Ruml.

Public figures connected with the democratic transition of Czechoslovakia in November 1989 believe the current uncompromising position of the Czech Government on the question of redistributing refugees among the Member States of the European Union could lead to a disruption of the Schengen area and the breakup of the European Union. A letter they have sent to the Government which the Czech News Agency has seen calls on the executive branch to honor its European commitments and reassess its current "negativist" position on the issue.  

The authors of the statement - Czech MP Ivan Gabal, entrepreneur Fedor Gál, former Czech Human Rights Minister Michael Kocáb, former Czech Interior Minister Jan Ruml and journalist Jan Urban - are asking the Prime Minister and his cabinet to declare their willingness to participate in the redistribution of refugees among EU states according to agreements that have been adopted. "Our credo has been to contribute to unity and eliminate polarization. We must begin to cooperate instead of suppressing cooperation and we must team up with everyone else," the letter reads.

The authors believe the Government should provide truthful information to the Czech citizenry about the numbers of asylum-seekers and illegal migrants who have passed through the republic during the past 20 years or resided there without ever endangering the functioning of the state so as to buoy citizens' self-confidence on the issue. They also believe the ministers should not ignore the scale of human suffering underway when informing the public about developments in these events and that they should emphasize states' moral obligations to adopt measures that exceed what is standard during a human tragedy of these dimensions.

The authors say they are aware that without firmly-established rules and careful organization, the reception of refugees by the Schengen states and the countries that form the external border of the Schengen area risk chaos, security threats, and an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. "We ask the representatives of this state to fulfill their obligations instead of blaming the citizens or our much more helpful partners in Austria, France and Germany, with whom we are equal and want to be equal, for the consequences of our representatives' cowardice, errors, and inaction," the letter says.    

The declaration was delivered to the cabinet by Czech Minister for Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Jiří Dienstbier (Czech Social Democratic Party). It was signed by other figures including theologian Tomáš Halík, political scientist Jiří Pehe, sociologist Jiřina Šiklová, artist Bořek Šípek and former Constitutional Court Justice Eliška Wagnerová.

agw, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Evropská unie, Listopad 1989, Immigration, refugee



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