Czech PM says ready to turn away migrants if Germany, Austria do

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PragueCzech Republic – Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said Friday his country was ready to start turning away migrants if Berlin and Vienna do so, as Germany’s interior minister proposed earlier this week.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer warned on Monday that he would give German Chancellor Angela Merkel a fortnight to find a European deal to curb new arrivals by a June 28-29 EU summit, failing which he vowed to order border police to turn back migrants.

“We can expect that Austria will take the same measure and in that case, we’ll do the same thing,” Babis told reporters.

“In that case the (Czech) border crossings will be monitored by the police, but we also have an emergency plan according to which customs officers and perhaps the army will be deployed,” he added.

EU nations are once again at loggerheads over immigration, triggered by Italy’s refusal this month to allow a rescue ship carrying 630 migrants to dock in its ports.

The new populist government in Rome accuses fellow EU members of abandoning Italy as it tries to cope with migrants making the perilous journey from Africa across the Mediterranean.

Babis also spoke in favour of increasing the scope of EU border agency Frontex’s responsibilities.

Some countries have called for Frontex to have thousands more employees and for greater measures to pre-empt migrants arriving in the EU.

“It’s not possible to spend so much money (on Frontex) to just do illegal migration monitoring and to watch the smuggler mafia’s business boom. Frontex must operate outside of Europe,” Babis said.

“The solution is very simple: the boats (carrying migrants) should not take to the sea.”

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