Czech government extends checks at Slovak border for another 14 days

The controls were introduced in September due to a rise in migrants coming mainly from Syria. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 08.12.2022 10:30:00 (updated on 08.12.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

The Czech government decided to prolong the border checks with Slovakia by another 14 days until Dec. 27, ČTK reported. The checks were introduced in late September due to migrants entering the country from the West Balkans route. Without the extension, the checks were scheduled to end on Dec. 12.

Foreign migrants, mainly from Syria, use the Czech Republic and Slovakia as a transit country to continue their way westwards to other EU states. The West Balkans route leads via Serbia and Hungary.

After yesterday's government meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Marian Jurečka said that the number of migrants was decreasing and the cabinet would continue to monitor the development over winter.

"While debating, we agreed that the extension was necessary," Jurecka said, not ruling out that the government could prolong the checks again in 14 days if the influx of migrants rises.

An 'extremely sensitive' issue

Before the government meeting, Interior Minister Vít Rakušan proposed prolonging the checks by 30 days. The last time the cabinet voted on prolonging the border checks was on Oct. 27.

The government decided in October that up to 80 soldiers and a maximum of 60 customs officials can help at the border. Yesterday, the government allowed their assistance to continue until the checks are over. However, the maximum number of customs officials is to be reduced to 30, news server Seznam Zprávy reported.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský discussed the prolongation of the checks with his Slovak counterpart on Tuesday. Lipavský told reporters that the matter was "extremely sensitive" and that a solution on the European level was needed due to the increase in migration.

Based on the Schengen Area rules, the regime of checks at the Czech border with Slovakia can remain in effect for half a year at the most, meaning until the end of March. In exceptional cases, the checks may last up to two years. The European Commission must be informed about the introduction of the border checks in advance.

The Schengen Area includes 26 European countries that have abolished passport and all other types of border controls at their mutual borders. The Czech Republic and Slovakia joined it in 2003.

Rakušan said on Monday that the checks had been effective and that diplomatic talks aimed to curb migration have also been a success.

Slovakia welcomes shorter extension

The Slovak Interior Ministry welcomed Czechia's extension of checks at the Slovak border by 14 days instead of 30, Slovak ministry spokeswoman Zuzana Eliášová told ČTK. She added that it was also the result of the Slovak debates with Czechia and the intensive checks in trains carried out by both the Czech and Slovak police.

The Slovak cabinet yesterday decided to extend the deployment of soldiers assisting the police in tackling illegal migration and protecting the Slovak border with Ukraine. More than 1 million people crossed the border westward since the start of the Russian aggression against Ukraine on Feb. 24.

According to the EU Frontex agency, the number of migrants entering the EU illegally along the Balkans route from January to September 2022 increased by 170 percent year-on-year, with a total of 228,000 such migrants being detained at the EU external border, the largest number since 2016.

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