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Czech Prime Minister Sobotka rejects EU immigration quotas

Monday, 18 May 2015

Prague - The Czech Republic wants to help refugees on the basis of sovereign government decisions, not of EU mechanisms, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said today, insisting on the Czech Republic's rejection of the compulsory quotas for the immigrants.

The European Commission announced today that by the end of May, it would submit a proposal of a redistribution of the refugees within the whole of the EU due to the current immigration wave.

By the end of the month, it will propose a programme within which it will be possible to resettle legally 20,000 persons from the third countries who clearly need international protection within the EU.

"In my view, there is no legal framework within the EU on the basis of which the quotas could be implemented," Sobotka said.

According to the documents of the European Commission, the Czech quota may be 2.63 percent or some 520 persons.

"The Czech Republic would certainly cope with 500 refugees," Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD) said.

"However, the government will ask why, under the proposal, the Czech Republic should accept more refugees than, say, Sweden," he added.

The ANO movement and Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL), another two members of the coalition government, are also against the quotas for the refugees, their representatives have said.

Former president Vaclav Klaus (2003-2013) said the planned redistribution of the refugees within the EU was a tragic error.

An agreement of European countries on sending the refugees back to their countries of origin is the only reasonable reaction to the immigration wave, Klaus, a Eurosceptic, said.

Sobotka said the Czech Republic was ready to spend more money on the aid to the refugees here and especially in the countries from which they were coming.

 However, it wants to provide the help on the basis of a voluntary approach, depending on its capabilities and capacities, he added.

Sobotka said individual EU countries knew best what the situation in them was.

The Czech Republic will present its position at the meeting of the European Council, he added.

 At it, it wants to defend national interests and the "principles of common sense," he added.

Sobotka said the Czech Republic was not the country of destination of the immigrants.

Within the Schengen area, nothing can prevent them from leaving elsewhere, he added.

As a result, the quota system cannot be implemented in the way that would be tenable in the long run, Sobotka said.

Last year, the Czech Republic granted asylum or a similar degree of protection to 765 people, mostly from Ukraine, Syria and Cuba.

Source: ČTK

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