Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Zeman: Migrant crisis not over, EU must start action

ČTK |
19 February 2016

Prague, Feb 18 (CTK) - The migrant crisis is not over, but it may become a horrible future, which is why the EU bodies must switch from words to deeds, Czech President Milos Zeman said after meeting his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor on Thursday but both admitted that some of their positions on migration differ.

Pahor said he supports the redistribution of refugees among the EU countries. Some of Ljubljana's positions on ways to tackle the migrant crisis differ from those of the Czech Republic and the Visegrad Four (V4) group, he said.

The V4, comprised of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, is opposed to the refugee relocation quotas and calls for a reserve border to be established along the borders of Bulgaria and Macedonia in case Turkey failed to stem the inflow of migrants to Europe and Greece failed to protect the Schengen border effectively.

"As far as our views are concerned, it is usual in democratic societies that some positions are identical and others differ from each other," Zeman said, commenting on Prague and Ljubljana's partially differing positions.

He said he and Pahor agree on the need to protect the EU outer border more consistently, but have different attitudes to the quotas and relocation mechanisms.

"We might reach a compromise stand on the upper limit for the number of refugees [to be accepted]," Zeman said.

He said Pahor informed him that 455,000 migrants have crossed Slovenia so far.

Unlike Zeman and the Czech cabinet, Pahor supports the refugee relocation.

Pahor said the V4 has some specific positions on tackling the refugee crisis, which rather differ from Slovenia's.

He considers this partially comprehensible, because the Central European countries are not directly exposed to he refugee wave.

Zeman, on whom Pahor bestowed a Slovenian state award for his long-lasting support for Slovenia, called for Prague and Ljubljana to "strive on various occasions for [the EU] switching from words to deeds, and for the European Commission and the European Council finally taking specific steps, in addition to discussions."

He said an optimal forum for the discussion to start is the EU summit in Brussels which began on Thursday, with the British-proposed changes to the EU rules and mainly migration on the agenda.

The European institutions should mainly speed up the preparation for refugee registration hotspots and a joint European border guard, Zeman said.

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