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Czech PM says will insist on rejecting migrant quotas

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka

The Czech Republic is sticking to its position of rejecting any mandatory quota system for redistributing asylum-seekers among European Union member states, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Tuesday ahead of EU meetings on the migration crisis.

The Czech Republic is among several central European countries to have sparred with Germany and others over accepting some of the hundreds of thousands of people flooding into Europe, mostly fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

EU interior ministers will discuss redistributing 120,000 migrants at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, and the dissenting countries may be outvoted on the issue under the EU’s decision-making rules if there is no agreement.

“We will strictly reject any attempt to introduce some permanent mechanism of redistributing refugees,” Sobotka told reporters. “We as well reject using a quota system in any temporary mechanism.”

Ministers are trying to find consensus to avoid a vote that could alienate the bloc’s eastern minority and cause further division.

Diplomats in Brussels set out a range of possible compromises being discussed on a proposal by the EU executive to take 120,000 asylum-seekers from Italy, Greece and Hungary and relocate them in other states according to a quota system.

Sobotka said he believed if the Czechs were outvoted, the system would not work as there was no legal mechanism to implement it.

“It can end in big ridicule for the European Commission and the countries supporting the system because there are no instruments how to, for example, how to keep refugees … in countries where they never wanted to go.”

Sobotka said the EU needed to focus on trying to find a solution to the war in Syria; helping in countries neighbouring the crisis areas; protecting external borders; creating centres for asylum-seekers at EU borders and turning back economic migrants.

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