ČR wants to accept 1,500 refugees by 2017

Cabinet says 400 will be accepted this year, starting in September

Prague, July 9 (ČTK) — The Czech Republic wants to accept 1,500 refugees by 2017, the Cabinet decided today and asked Interior Minister Milan Chovanec to present the plan at a meeting of EU ministers on Thursday, Deputy PM Pavel Bělobrádek told journalists during the night Cabinet meeting.

Chovanec (Social Democrats, ČSSD) said the Czech Republic wants to accept 400 refugees this year, another 700 next year and 400 in 2017.

The first of them will be accepted in September, Bělobrádek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) said.

The government stated that it wants the right of veto in choosing the refugees to accept, if a security risk proved to be linked to some of them.

It will be a one-off action of solidarity, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (CSSD) said.

Bělobrádek said the Czech Republic would accept 1100 refugees from Italy and Greece, and “400 from outside the EU, who stay in horrible conditions in refugee camps mainly in Jordan, Kurdistan and Syria.”

The Cabinet wants to negotiate with the EU about the regime of returning the refugees who failed to gain Czech asylum, Bělobrádek said.

He said the mandate Chovanec will present on behalf of Prague at the meeting of the EU interior and justice ministers on Thursday does not include any selection criteria.

Nevertheless, in view of the high number of migrants, certain limitations in this respect will have to be set, he said.

Chovanec said individual refugees’ professions and their chance on the labour market may be among the criteria.

The Czech Republic, in cooperation with churches and NGOs, will send experts to the refugee camps in Jordan and Kurdistan in order to interview the inmates, complete their security checks and provide information to them within a three-month preparatory course.

Tomáš Prouza, Czech state secretary for European affairs, said on Twitter that the Czech Republic will choose the refugees to be accepted.

Sobotka said he views the one-off partial redistribution of refugees as Prague’s “necessary help in the present crisis situation, which corresponds to the capacities of the Czech Republic, but not as a solution to the migration problem Europe is faced with.”

He said the EU must now primarily focus on securing an appropriate effectiveness of the Schengen border and implementing the policy of returning illegal economic migrants.

It is also necessary to resolutely crack down on people-smugglers’ networks and stabilize the countries from where the migration wave comes, including the building of facilities for asylum seekers outside the EU, Sobotka said.

Chovanec (ČSSD) said that some 60 percent of refugees fail to be granted asylum in the Czech Republic.

The EU is trying to solve the wave of immigrants in the southern member states by proposing ways to redistribute them among the other member countries. At the June summit, the member countries rejected the idea of mandatory quotas and said they want the acceptance of refugees to remain on the voluntary basis.

EU members should divide 40,000 refugees from Italy and Greece among themselves in two years.

In addition, the EU plans to accept 20,000 refugees from refugee camps outside Europe, who are entitled to international legal protection.

According to the EC’s original proposal, the Czech Republic was to accept about 1850 refugees this and next year.

In the case of the refugees redistributed from Italy and Greece, they would be asylum seekers. If accepted by the Czech Republic, they would be placed in detention facilities for their asylum procedure to be completed.

The government will discuss the migration issue next week again.

Chovanec will propose ten buildings that could serve as new facilities for asylum seekers.

An increase in the number of foreigner police and the Interior Ministry staff is also to be dealt with.

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