Just days ahead of a scheduled EU summit on migration, Prague has announced the launch of a Visegrad group project to strengthen Libyan border protection and improve the plight of refugees in the country. The Czech Republic, which now faces a lawsuit over its failure to take in refugees, is pushing the view that the crisis needs to be resolved outside of Europe.
The countries of the Visegrad 4 – Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech
Republic, are set to launch a joint program to boost security on Libya’s
borders to try and quell the number of migrants trying to flee the country
as well as to try and improve the situation for them at home.
Former prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka expressed support for the project ahead of an EU summit which will be attended by his successor Andrej Babiš.
Czech financial daily Hospodářské noviny reported that 200 million crowns could be pledged by the Czech Republic towards security and aid. Money donated by the V4 would go to the EU Trust Fund for Africa.
So far, the Czech Republic has already provided funding worth 42.42 million crowns or 1.66 million euros.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said the European Commission
should be more impartial in its assessment of how individual member states
are meeting their obligations. During a working dinner with European
Commission President Jean-Claude Junker, attended by Visegrad Group heads
of government, Mr. Sobotka said it sometimes appeared as if the Commission
was applying a double standard and punishing countries which were perceived
as troublemakers for something other members got away with without
The dinner with the Visegrad Group leaders, held on the eve of the EU’s October summit, is seen as an attempt to ease tensions between Brussels and the Visegrad group states which have been at loggerheads over migrant quotas and the EU’s planned directive on posted workers, which EU ministers will debate in Luxembourg on Monday.
The Czech Secretary of State for EU Affairs, Aleš Chmelař, said the two sides had agreed to intensify dialogue on sensitive issues in the future so as to ensure better understanding.
The EU’s October summit is focussing on EU reforms, the migrant crisis, the functioning of Schengen and the common market and the need to strengthen cooperation in the field of defence.
Heads of state of the V4 countries have expressed their support for the
integration of the Western Balkan countries into the European Union and
called for accelerating the process during a two-day meeting in Szekszard
in Hungary, which got underway on Friday.
According to the Czech President Miloš Zeman, who attended the summit with his Hungarian, Polish and Slovak counterparts, they have also agreed that there was a risk of spreading radical Islam in Bosnia. The heads of state have also talked about ecology or digitization.
The interior ministers of the Visegrad group have warned that the
introduction of a permanent mechanism similar to the mandatory quotas for
redistribution of immigrants across Europe may deepen the migrant crisis.
In a joint declaration issued in Bratislava the interior ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland rejected the pressure that the European Commission is exerting on countries that failed to accept the required numbers of asylum seekers.
They argue that the only way of resolving the migrant crisis is through the protection of the EU’s external border, coordinated aid to the countries from which migrants are coming and bilateral agreements with their governments which would help to curb the flow of migrants.
A joint meeting of Czech and Slovak governments is set to take place at
Lednice castle in south Moravia on Monday. Among the main topics on the
agenda will be the joint celebration of the founding of Czechoslovakia,
cooperation in the area of energy infrastructure, situation in Ukraine and
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is also scheduled to hold separate talks with his Slovak counterpart Robert Fico to discuss regional cooperation among V4 countries as well as other issues. The meeting at Lednice Castle is the fifth joint session of the Czech and Slovak governments.
Czech ambassadors from around the world congregated in Prague this week for their annual round of consultations. Among the foreign policy issues on their agenda were security, economic diplomacy, EU-related matters and regional cooperation. During a small break in their busy agenda, I met with the Czech Ambassador to France Petr Drulák to talk about Franco-Czech relations, the country’s position in the EU and the role of the Visegrad alliance. I began by asking for his take on Prime Minister Sobotka’s recent proposal that the Czech Republic should
The Czech Republic could become the dustbin of Europe with regard to sub-quality foodstuffs brought into the country without the help of the European Union, the Czech Secretary of State for European Affairs, Aleš Chmelař, commented on Friday. Chmelař added that only the EU could take a position on whether cross border discrimination existed or not. The issue of lower quality foodstuffs being sold in Central Europe was taken up by the V4 grouping of countries last week at a meeting in Budapest. Chmelař said that Visegrad leaders would address the issue again in September and hoped to see progress being made.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, says he and the leaders of the other three Visegrad states supported the improvement and deepening of relations between the European Union and Israel at a meeting with their Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, in Budapest on Wednesday. Mr. Sobotka tweeted that the EU and Israel were connected by historical ties, democratic values and economic interests. The Czech leader also said that he had backed cooperation with Israel in the fields of security, cyber-security, innovation, science and research during the meeting in the Hungarian capital.