Czechia and Slovakia at loggerheads over border controls

The prime ministers of both countries will meet this evening to discuss the future of Czech-Slovak border controls currently in place.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 10.11.2022 11:41:00 (updated on 10.11.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

A large inflow of migrants entering Czechia via its border with Slovakia has been causing a headache for both countries. The situation become so bad that the Czech government decided in September to impose border controls between both nations, which remain in place to this day. This led to frustration from the Slovak side, who is now protesting the decision.

Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala will meet with his Slovak counterpart Eduard Heger Thursday evening to discuss a possible resolution. According to Heger, the current checks on the border “cannot continue.” 

He believes that financial damage to companies, businesses, and inconveniently long waiting times are enough reasons to cancel the checks. Earlier this week, Slovak truck drivers staged a mass protest and blocked a highway connecting Czechia and Slovakia, citing waiting times lasting longer than eight hours.

QUICK FACTS ON THE ISSUE

  • Since the start of border controls, Czech police detained around 9,000 illegal migrants.
  • Illegal immigration into Czechia rose by 1,200 percent year on year in recent months.
  • Over 114,700 people entered the EU illegally in the first half of 2022, an 84 percent annual rise.
  • In 2021 there were over 200,000 illegal border crossings detected on EU borders, the most since 2017.

    Sources: ČTK, Unherd.com, and Schengenvisainfo.com

Czechia, however, is insistent on keeping the border checks in place. "The measure we have taken really works," Fiala emphasized earlier this week. Migrants – predominantly of Middle Eastern and North African origin – use Slovakia as a route into Czechia and into other nations in Western Europe.

According to ČTK, Czechia saw up to 350 illegal migrants crossing into its territory daily at the time when the initial border checks were introduced. This number has now fallen substantially. 

Czechia has repeatedly extended the duration of the border checks, which were originally introduced only as a temporary measure. The most-recent extension expires on Nov. 12, but the Czech Interior Ministry hopes to prolong this by a further 30 days – provided that the European Commission has no objections.

"[The situation] undoubtedly cannot continue this way. Especially because we are the countries that are part of the Schengen Area. The benefit of the Schengen Area is that we do not have border between us, we have free movement."

- Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger

Despite Heger’s displeasure about the border checks, Interior Minister Vít Rakušan denies any wrongdoing. Rakušan believes that “they are exactly within the limits of international rules and that Czechia is not violating the code in any way,” ČTK reports.

Further south, border controls have also been taking place on Slovakia’s borders with Austria and Hungary. Authorities are wary of illegal migrants’ most common route of entry into the EU, which is via the Western Balkans. Serbia, for example, simultaneously shares visa-free arrangements with the bloc and also with India and Tunisia, simplifying illegal immigration.

Rakušan said he didn't not expect "any acute lifting of the re-introduced checks" following today’s talks. Czechia’s and Slovakia’s frustrations with the migrant problem and with one another continue to brew.

Do you think controls on the Czechia-Slovakia border should continue?

Yes 68 %
No 32 %
66 readers voted on this poll. Voting is open
Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more