Prague, July 18 (CTK) – Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis (ANO) is ready to discuss ways to tackle illegal migration to Europe with his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte, he said in the Senate, the upper house of parliament, today.
He said he received a letter late on Tuesday, in which Conte invites him to come to Italy to discuss Rome’s proposal for the EU’s approach to tackling illegal migration.
Babis said he proposed July 30 as the meeting’s date but Conte’s schedule turned out to be busy on that day and therefore another date will be sought.
“We will definitely react and declare our clear position. I think it is the position shared by all Visegrad Four (V4) countries, whom the latest European Council meeting helped to gain a certain respect,” Babis told the senators in a debate on the June EU summit results.
The V4 is comprised of Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, all of which have long opposed the idea of binding migrant redistribution quotas.
Earlier today, Deputy PM Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) told media that Prague’s answer to the open letter by which Conte reacted to the Czech cabinet’s negative response to Italy’s request for help with a new group of 450 migrants, is being prepared, including an answer to the invitation addressed to Babis.
Last weekend, Conte asked EU countries for help with 450 migrants who were rescued from a boat in the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday. Some countries complied with Conte’s request, but Babis refused to do so on behalf of Prague.
He said Europe should rather send out a signal saying that illegal migration is inadmissible and that the acceptance of more refugees only further deteriorates the problem.
“Such an approach is the road to hell. This only motivates people-smugglers and increases their profit,” Babis said about the acceptance of migrants.
He referred to the recent EU summit’s agreement on the acceptance of migrants by EU members on the voluntary principle.
Babis repeated his position in the Senate discussion today.
Conte wrote to Babis that the EU has by no means embarked a road to hell but preferred a road of legality and joint responsibility.
He who enters a European country, enters Europe. No EU country can believe that it can cope with the issue by itself, Conte wrote, inviting Babis to Rome to discuss Italy’s proposal for the EU’s approach to migration.
The Czech government has been opposed to the redistribution of illegal migrants among the EU members for a long time.
Hamacek, who is the interim foreign minister, said on Sunday that Prague can help Italy otherwise, for example by providing experts and police officers and joining a possible operation in northern Libya under Italy’s command.