Babis Pledges Not To Accept A Single Migrant After Meeting Italian PM

Andrej Babiš, Migrants

Rome, Aug 28 (CTK) – A solution to the migration problem is a combination of financial support for the countries like Italy, Northern Africa as well as those African countries from which migrants flow, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told reporters after meeting his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte today.

Babis also confirmed the position of the Czech Republic not to accept a single migrant within their redistribution.

Babis said both countries differed in the view of the relocation of refugees.

“I have clearly said that this cannot be a solution, and that we have been dealing with the quotas in vain for four years, wasting time. Europe must accept a systemic measure to halt illegal migration,” Babis said.

In this respect, he told reporters that he had reiterated to Conte that the Czech Republic would not accept a single migrant. “He (Conte) understands this as this is simply no solution,” Babis added.

Babis had a 30-minute tete-a-tete conversation with Conte, followed by a working lunch.

Babis said he had explained him his view of the solution to European migration that should be based on support for the countries, such as Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain.

“They must halt illegal migration for which money is naturally needed. And then talks with Northern Africa must take place,” Babis said, adding that Libya plays a key role in this.

“Italy has achieved immense successes in migration since it considerably decreased the migrants’ inflow, to which the Libyan coast guard strongly contributed,” Babis stressed.

“Consequently, a solution is a combination of financial support for the countries that are in the front line, including Italy, Northern Africa and naturally these African countries from which migrants are coming,” said Babis, adding that North African countries must halt migration along their southern borders.

Babis also visited the headquarters of the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED Sophia) in Rome today. Czech soldiers participate in its tasks. The operation is to fight people smugglers who are attempting to get migrants from Northern Africa to Europe.

Babis said he had obtained many important pieces of information during this visit. The operation must continue, he added.

Italy was threatening to leave this operation if no other ports, but Italian or Maltese ones were found for disembarking of migrants, Babis noted.

During the visit to the Sophie headquarters, Babis learnt that migrants paid from $2000 to $5000 to smugglers. He pointed out that the mission complained about insufficient powers, for instance, to enter a suspicious vessel.

Babis and Conte also talked about the draft EU budget that Babis criticised for an “exorbitant rise” in the costs of European structures. He also expressed surprise at the proposed rise in the budget for the protection of the EU outer border from 13 to 35 billion euros.

Babis today also met Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi.

He told her that the Czech Republic would like to donate a statue of Czech Humanist philosopher and pedagogue Jan Amos Komensky (1592-1670), known as Comenius, to a park of Villa Borghese in 2020, on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of his death. This should be a gesture expressing “traditional friendly relations,” he added.

Conte invited Babis to Italy in July after the Czech PM rejected the Italian request for help with 450 migrants who were rescued from a fisherman’s boat in the Mediterranean Sea.

Babis justified the refusal, saying Europe should rather send out a signal that illegal migration was inadmissible and that the acceptance of more refugees would only further worsen the problem.

Babis left Italy for Malta later today.