Border controls that Czechia introduced in late September citing “illegal migration” could last until December 12, Interior Minister Vit Rakusan said on November 2.
Both Czechia and Slovakia are in the Schengen area and Slovak ministers have repeatedly stated that controls inside the Schengen area are counterproductive.
After Czechia prolonged border controls with its former federation member to November 12, Slovak authorities were forced to set up a border camp for the Syrians journeying from the south of Europe to the north, mostly Germany.
At a press conference after the Czech cabinet meeting on Wednesday November 2 Rakusan said that army and customs police will take part in the controls if these are prolonged until December 12. Prolonging of controls for another 30 days beyond November 12 needs to be confirmed by the European Commission.
“Government had approved prolonging of controls by 15 days [last week], which is in the power of the Czech government”, said Rakusan, explaining that the further 30-prolongation is conditional, but the government had to greenlight this “in order to open negotiations with the European Commission”.
Rakusan’s Slovak counterpart Roman Mikulec described Czech controls as breaching the Schengen treaty, adding that Czechia is also breaching Europe’s readmission treaty and hinted that Slovakia could leave the treaty, the Czech Press Agency reported. Rakusan dismissed the accusations as unfounded.
After Czechia introduced the border controls Austria quickly followed suit and Slovak police reinforced their own controls. Since the end of September Slovak police detained “2,675 illegal migrants and 45 people smugglers”, Slovak Interior Ministry Spokesperson Zuzana Eliasova told media.
Eliasova added that Slovak police are coordinating health and food assistance at the border town of Kuty where a provisional camp town has been set up after Syrians fleeing violence and unrest in Syria have filled a local train station.
Slovak public media report that the camp town in Kuty consists of 10 tents with one suitable for 16 people and that many Syrians are in need of immediate medical assistance.
“Today we have had five or six serious cases of pneumonia. Normally they would be hospitalised, but they don’t want to and want to continue their journeys”, physician Vladimir Krcmery was quoted as saying by Slovak public TV on November 2.
Many Syrians were quoted on television and radio saying they have been travelling for weeks or months trying to reach their family members in Germany.
The EU is currently discussing a Czech proposal for countries to voluntarily relocate 5,000-10,000 migrants annually, Politico reported from a draft document. The proposal is set to be discussed throughout November before officials decide to work on introducing such a mechanism. Czechia currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.