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German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is in Prague within her post Brexit European tour, on Thursday met with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka to debate the migrant crisis, the future of the EU after Brexit, and bilateral cooperation in the field of science and research. On the divisive issue of migration, the chancellor said there were principal issues on which the two sides were in agreement, such as the need to enforce the protection of the EU’s outer borders and the need to address the primary cause of the migrant crisis. Prague remains opposed to the concept of mandatory quotas, but Prime Minister Sobotka stressed that the existing differences did not mean that the two sides were not prepared to communicate and address them.

On another hot international issue, the German chancellor and Czech Prime minister rejected calls for an end to the EU sanctions against Russia, advocated among others by Czech President Milos Zeman. Chancellor Merkel said the lifting of sanctions could only come with progress in fulfilling the Minsk agreement, which was clearly not happening. Prime Minister Sobotka said the conditions under which the sanctions could be modified or lifted had been made clear from the outset and until they had been met there was no point in debating the issue.

The German Chancellor later met with President Milos Zeman, a fierce opponent of migration, who strongly rejected the idea of mandatory quotas, arguing that since it was Germany which had issued an open invitation to millions of migrants the country should take responsibility for them and not foist them on others.

At the close of her visit the chancellor attended a dinner given in her honour at Prague’s Lichtenstein Palace.