Czech PM, in speech about EU, says migration problems have caused a rise in extremist politics
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) has reiterated his belief that he considers the biggest problem facing the EU today to be that of illegal migration. In a speech opening a three-day international conference on 19 June called the "Prague European Summit", the PM said migration problems have caused the rise of extremist politics and created disputes among states.
The Czech Republic, according to the PM, is prepared to contribute to combating illegal migration and to protecting the EU's external borders, but rejects the idea of renewing border controls inside the Schengen area. The Czech PM frequently speaks about what he sees as the EU's unmanaged defenses against illegal migration and did not deviate from his previous statements on the issue.
Europe must be able to guard its external border, the PM said. The main responsibility for that, according to him, lies with the southern countries to which the migrants arrive.
The rest of Europe must support those countries, he said. For the Czech Republic, however, adopting quotas for receiving asylum-seekers is not the way to demonstrate its support.
Babiš emphasized that it would be unacceptable for the Czech Republic if the borders between the Member States were to close. The renewal of border controls within the EU because of migration is being demanded of German Chancellor Angela Merkel by the head of the Christian Social Union (CSU), Horst Seehofer.
Merkel said on Monday that rejecting migrants at the borders of Germany without pre-negotiating that process could launch a negative domino effect throughout Europe. The Czech PM said that "The current disputes about migration in Germany have led to proposals for border closure and the renewal of controls that are unacceptable to us."
The Czech PM added that the Czech economy depends on the borders functioning as open inside the Schengen system. EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová also spoke about migration, saying she believes that above all the EU must unify.
"We will only stand up to this pressure if we appear unified," the Commissioner said. She added that EU countries should make an effort so that people from Africa and other countries have a chance of living dignified lives without having to flee to Europe.
Babiš said that for the Czech Republic, EU participation is the only prospect for the country's economy and political situation. The correct way for forward for Europe, in his view, is an effort to fulfill the "four freedoms" - the free movement of capital, goods, people and services.
That will not be able to happen, the Czech PM believes, if Europe closes its internal borders because of fear of migration. The event he was addressing, the Prague European Summit, has been held in the Czech capital since 2015.
The summit is attended by academics, experts, government officials and politicians. Those attending primarily discuss current EU problems and how they could develop in future.
This year the subjects of the conference included Brexit, the impact of the digitalization of industry on the EU, and the proposal for the multi-year financial framework for 2021-2027. The three-day event will also see speeches by Czech Foreign Minister Martin Stropnický (ANO), government bureaucrats for EU affairs from the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, several ambassadors, and the French Nobel Prize winner for chemistry, Jean-Marie Lehn.
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