Wednesday

26th Sep 2018

Czech Republic advocates use of army to protect borders

  • A Belgian ship during Frontex's Operation Triton in the Mediterranean. Czech president wants more military boats. (Photo: Frontex)

The EU could better protect itself from migrants if it had a common army, Czech president Milos Zeman said Tuesday (25 August), while the Czech finance minister, Andrej Babis, called for the closure of the Schengen area's external borders and for Nato help.

Speaking to Czech ambassadors at Prague castle, Zeman regretted that Frontex, the EU border-control agency, has only three unarmed ships and a few armed ships to patrol the Mediterranean.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“The EU's fundamental lack is a lack of will for a common border protection”, Zeman said.

"Today, a common European army would come in handy" to address the issue, he added.

Collective action

Czech authorities recently floated the idea of using the army to secure the country's borders.

“The defence ministry is ready to allocate a maximum of 2,600 soldiers in case of further requests from the police”, defence minister Martin Stropnicky said on Friday.

The Czech republic is is on the way between Hungary, where more than 100,000 migrants have arrived so far this year, and Germany, their main destination.

It is itself expecting up to 7,000 asylum seekers next year, according to a defence ministry report revealed by the CTK press agency earlier this month.

Interior minister Milan Chovanec said he would seek about €40 million of extra spending next year to face migrant arrivals.

On Tuesday, the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka also called on Europe to take collective action to protect Schengen area's external borders, especially in Italy, Greece, and Macedonia.

"The migrant crisis is a pan-European problem. It is a challenge that we cannot run away from. There is now a great deal at stake. Among others the future of the Schengen border-free zone”, he said.

Giant camp

His finance minister, businessman Andrej Babis, went further and asked for Nato help.

"The question is whether Macedonian or Bulgarian armies don't need Nato help”, he told reporters, pointing to the fact that, Greece, their neighbour, is isolated from the rest of the Schengen area.

On Tuesday, Bulgaria announced it was sending 25 soldiers and armoured vehicles to help monitor the four border-crossings with Macedonia.

Babis also said that Schengen's external border should be "immediately" closed and called on the EU to warn migrants' countries of origin that it would take no more.

"It must say: You cannot come to us to be unemployed and take immediately social benefits”, he said.

He added the EU should create a giant camp where economic migrants would be sorted from people in need of protection, especially women and children.

In an interview to Austrian radio O1, Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann criticised the Czech government, and also Poland and Baltic states, for refusing European quotas of refugees.

"How would you want to make [frontline countries] protect external borders if they think that hundreds of thousands of migrants will stay there, while the others [like the Czech republic] continue to wait and discuss calmly?”, Faymann asked.

"It is necessary to solve these things simultaneously, one influences the other”.

EU to spend €2.4bn on migrant schemes

The EU executive approved programmes for border management and treatment of asylum application in 19 member states for the 2014-2020 period.

Opinion

Visegrad members must stick together

Informal coalitions are becoming more important in EU politics, the Czech EU affairs minister says, as V4 leaders meet in Prague on immigration.

UN: Czechs violate refugee rights to deter others

The United Nations has condemned the poor treatment of asylum seekers in the Czech Republic and says the government encourages human rights violations to deter others from arriving.

Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate

Issues of sovereignty remain entrenched following a proposal by the European Commission to expand the EU's border and coast guard, also known as Frontex, to 10,000. But EU leaders maintain a "basic consensus" of support had been reached.

News in Brief

  1. No UK election before Brexit, says May
  2. Former French PM wants to be mayor of Barcelona
  3. Merkel's wingman in surprise defeat in internal party vote
  4. Orban sends thank-you letters to supportive MEPs
  5. UN chief: World suffering from 'trust deficit disorder'
  6. Stalemate in Sweden as parliament ousts prime minister
  7. Migrant rescue ship heading to French port
  8. EU angry at British tabloids on Brexit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. World upside down as EU and Russia unite against US
  2. EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses
  3. Russian with Malta passport in money-laundering probe
  4. Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?
  5. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  6. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  7. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  8. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us