PM Babiš: EU lacks a clear strategy for fighting illegal immigration

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš also spoke about Schengen enlargement at the Bled Strategic Forum Wednesday.

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 01.09.2021 19:07:00 (updated on 01.09.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

The European Union has no clear strategy with regards to the fight against illegal migration and the Schengen Area enlargement by addition of the Western Balkan countries, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) told reporters before his departure for Slovenia to attend the Bled Strategic Forum Wednesday.

The aim of the conference is to address the future of Europe, including its recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the impact of the current situation in Afghanistan.

Babiš said Europe must protect itself against illegal migration. The Schengen Area of free movement did not function very well in this respect during the migrant crisis of 2015, he reiterated.

"The only country working well then was Hungary," said Babiš, hinting at the strict migration policy Budapest applied during the extensive migrant crisis.

In addition, Babiš said, "It is necessary to address why we have not included Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, and Serbia in the Schengen zone yet." He added that his government had repeatedly proposed Schengen enlargement by adding these countries to the zone.

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The Bled forum will also focus on the latest turbulent developments in Afghanistan.

Babiš said that in light of the current situation in Afghanistan, where the Taliban radical Islamic movement has taken over the government after allied troops' withdrawal, the EU will have to negotiate primarily with Turkey to look after refugees from Afghanistan, possibly in exchange for EU funds.

During the previous wave of migrants flooding Europe in 2015, Brussels struck a deal with Ankara thanks to which the influx of refugees to the EU through Turkey considerably decreased. Within this agreement, Turkey received money from the EU for the several million refugees staying in its territory.

Babiš also commented on the Covid pandemic prior to his departure for Slovenia.

He admitted that his government had not managed the Covid-19 epidemic last September when it came to the return to schools after the summer holidays.

However, he said that his statement "We are the best in Covid" from last August was taken out of context and abused by some journalists and the opposition.

Babiš referred to a video recording from last year, which shows that he actually said "we four are the best," meaning the Visegrád Four (V4) countries, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia.

"Then, we naturally did not manage the return to schools and from holidays in September. Let us hope that we will cope with this year in a considerably better way," Babis said, adding that the Covid vaccination rate, as well as a high number of people who already underwent the infection, should help the situation.

At present, like last summer, the situation when it comes to the Covid incidence per 100,000 in the past seven days is the best in the V4 countries, he noted.

Babiš pronounced the words "Best in Covid" at the Bled Strategic Forum on August 31, 2020. A month later, the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic erupted in the Czech Republic, being much stronger than the first one in the spring of 2020. After a steep rise in the number of Covid infections and deaths, the Czech Republic remains one of the worst afflicted countries in the world taking the size of its population into account.

Babiš today said that according to a new study from Israel, natural immunity gained after having the Covid "might be more efficient than vaccination." "The Health Ministry should be clear about this matter," he said.

He added that he had staged the first round-table debate on this matter and was waiting for more documentation to provide a better picture of the situation to the government.

Babis reiterated his remarks this afternoon at a panel of European leaders entitled "Future of Europe - To Stand and Withstand."

Its organizers call the Bled Forum, held annually held since 2009, the main international conference in Central and Southeastern Europe offering a platform to express and compare views of modern society and its future.

The aim of the forum is to enable participants to exchange opinions and seek innovative solutions to current and future challenges as well as to facilitate contacts with regional and global leaders.

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