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28 Aug, 2021 14:58

Czech PM says Schengen not working, urges inclusion of Balkan states to protect Europe from illegal migrants

Czech PM says Schengen not working, urges inclusion of Balkan states to protect Europe from illegal migrants

The Schengen area will only be able to protect Europe from illegal migrants after such countries as Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Croatia are included in the agreement, the Czech Republic’s prime minister, Andrej Babis, has said.

“Unfortunately, Schengen isn’t functional at the moment,” Babis said in an interview with Pravo newspaper on Saturday. With its current set of members, the 1985 agreement is unable to fulfill its task of providing “consistent protection of the external borders and free movement inside” Europe, he added.

And it was no better in 2015 when the European migrant crisis occurred as hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the continent, fleeing conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, the PM pointed out.

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“The only one to defend the Schengen borders in 2015 was [Hungarian PM] Viktor Orban, who built a fence against migrants,” said Babis, who is one of the Czech Republic’s richest men and the head of the populist ANO 2011 party.

With most migrants arriving by boat, it was “absurd” that such countries as Bulgaria and Croatia, which control Europe’s Black Sea and Adriatic Sea coastlines, respectively, weren’t part of Schengen, he said. “Let’s accept Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia and Croatia into the Schengen area; have a clear strategy towards the Western Balkans and defend Europe against illegal migration at its external borders.”

Other steps needed to solve the problem should include “fighting human traffickers and signing agreements with Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya” from where the refugees are setting off for Europe, Babis said.

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He justified the need to protect Europe from refugees by claiming that “Denmark, Sweden and Austria, which all welcomed migrants in 2015, now reject them.”

The Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland were the only EU member states to refuse to fulfill the Union’s refugee quotas at the height of migrant influx six years ago. Back then, Prague was told to resettle 2,000 asylum seekers, but took in just 12 people, while Budapest and Warsaw didn’t let any in at all. Despite the countries arguing that the migrants posed a security threat, the European Court of Justice found them guilty of breaching EU laws last year. They may face hefty fines. 

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