The four Visegrad countries – the Czech and Slovak Republics, Poland and Hungary – rejected the mandatory migrant quotas proposed by the European Union at their summit held in Prague on 4 September. The group of four, however, also sought to assure the other fellow EU Member States that they wanted to contribute to the solution of the migrant crisis and protection of the Schengen border-free area. The Central European countries moreover called for “preserving the voluntary nature of EU solidarity measures” and stated that “any proposal leading to introduction of mandatory and permanent quota for solidarity measures would be unacceptable”.
In the meantime, Commission’s President Jean-Claude Juncker is readying to announce the plan with a permanent system of obligatory quotas for EU Member States to accept migrants and refugees. The Visegrad countries, however, made it clear that any similar proposal would be rejected outright. Poland’s Prime Minister, Ewa Kopacz, said that a mechanism based on mandatory quotas would only encourage more migrants to enter. She pointed out that if the redistribution of refugees was the major issue of the discourse on the migrant crisis, it would be sufficient for European leaders to meet once a month to set up the numbers.
However, according to Bohuslav Sobotka, Czech Prime Minister, the most crucial issue about the migrant crisis is the fact that the block in incapable of protecting its own borders and regulating migration and the socio-political developments in its close neighborhood. “We agreed that the debate on quotas has only one purpose. It diverts attention from the real core of the problem. Europe lost capability to regulate migration,” he said. Instead, the club of four Central European countries thinks that the EU should be more actively involved in solving the political turmoil and conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa with the help of all key international players including Russia and the United States.