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September 5, 2018 12:00 am | FILED UNDER: europe

Babis, Merkel To Discuss Migration

By ČTK Andrej Babis

Prague, Sept 5 (CTK) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been for a long time implementing the same scenario which Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) is going to propose to her as a solution to migration at their meeting in Berlin today, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes today.

 

Babis plans to tell the Asterix and Obelix fairy-tale to Merkel to express his opinion that the EU should be like the village from the French comics – a community that closely cooperates but is enclosed by fortified borders.

 

The Asterix and Obelix story is a part of the documents Babis has prepared for his meeting with Merkel, the text of which the daily has at its disposal.

 

In Berlin, Babis wants to discuss migration as an issue he expects to crucially influence the EU elections next year. Most recently, he said he would come up with an all-Europe plan to stem migration, HN writes.

 

Babis says Africa needs help similar to the Marshall Plan, which helped boost West Europe’s economy after WWII. Such aid would improve the lives of the local people, who would no longer be motivated to leave for Europe, he says.

 

However, this is what Merkel has been saying for many months now. Last week, she paid another visit to Africa in a row to promote the implementation of the same plan that Babis seems to be going to propose to her today, the daily writes.

 

Germany, like other EU members, has also been long seeking to maximally reduce the number of the migrants reaching the coast of Europe, which is another point in the all-Europe plan Babis is going to propose, the paper continues.

 

Babis speaks of the need for the EU to reach agreement with African countries that would make them better guard their borders and bar migrants from setting off for Europe.

 

Nevertheless, the EU has already signed an agreement with countries such as Niger, which has significantly curbed the number of migrants. The flow of illegal migrants to Europe has declined by 96 percent compared with the migrant crisis climax in 2015, the paper writes.

 

Diplomats say Babis’s proposal contains no new ideas and Merkel can hardly take it for a real contribution to Europe’s efforts to tackle migration.

 

“Babis cannot tell her anything new or consistent,” HN’s high-ranking diplomatic source is quoted as saying.

 

Babis differs from Merkel and most other EU members on what people should be helped by Europe, the daily continues.

 

The UN and many EU states emphasise that the economic migrants, who head for Europe in search of a more comfortable life, include genuine refugees fleeing from a war.

 

Besides, most EU countries have been resettling Syrians, mainly women, children, old and ill people directly from Turkey based on the migration-stemming pact the EU signed with Turkey in 2016, which was also joined by Prague.

 

Babis approves of the EU-Turkey deal as a model solution but he refuses to accept a few genuine refugees from Turkey and enable their resettling in the Czech Republic.

 

He told media earlier this week that if the Czech Republic needs foreign workers, they must be chosen be Czech companies, not officials from Brussels or elsewhere in the EU.

 

Babis thus lumps economic migration together with countries’ voluntary aid to genuine refugees fleeing from war-stricken regions, HN writes.

 

“The problem is that Babis does not know what he is talking about,” said Vit Dostal, an expert from the Czech Association for International Affairs.

 

Similar was the reaction of the ambassador of a significant EU country in Prague, who told HN that Babis suffers from a vast lack of knowledge of European politics.

 

Milan Nic, from the Berlin-seated DGAP think-tank, said today meeting’s most important goal is the establishment of normal working relations between Babis and Merkel.

 

“The Czech Republic and Germany have to tackle a number of issues, not only migration but also the next European budget, among others,” Nic told HN.

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