Czech Republic will not accept migrant sharing, Joseph Muscat is told

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has described talks with Czech counterpart Andrej Babiš as ‘lively and interesting’

Joseph Muscat and Andrej Babiš at Hastings Gardens where wreaths were laid at the monument commemorating former Czech President Vaclav Havel
Joseph Muscat and Andrej Babiš at Hastings Gardens where wreaths were laid at the monument commemorating former Czech President Vaclav Havel

The Czech Republic remains adamantly opposed to migrant sharing and this was made clear to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat by his counterpart Andrej Babiš at Castille.

In a first visit by a Czech prime minister to Malta, Babiš said while his country was ready to help in EU efforts to tackle the migration phenomenon, it was against migrant sharing.

The country forms part of the eastern European bloc known as the Visegrad Group that has adopted a hard line anti migrant approach. Hungary also forms part of this group.

Malta has advocated a European response to the migrant crisis, seeking migrant sharing solutions on an ad hoc basis.

The differing views prompted Muscat to describe his meeting with Babiš as “lively and interesting”. Muscat also thanked his counterpart for being “straightforward” on the issue.

But at a joint press conference, Muscat insisted that while various solutions to tackle migration had to be explored, including border controls, Europe could not just erect walls.

Muscat stressed the need for member states and parties operating in the Mediterranean to abide by the rules and international treatises, noting that migration flows in the central Mediterranean had dropped by 80% over the past year.

The Maltese Prime Minister said it was wrong to create a Europe of enclaves and called for a better understanding between European states despite each having their own reality.

Babiš brought into question the Schengen agreement that removes border controls between EU states. He said Europe had to discuss changes to Schengen in order to defend the European continent. He also called for EU engagement with African countries to stem migration at source.

Babiš arrived in Malta after visiting Italy, another frontline state for migrant arrivals. Italy elected a hard-line government earlier this year, which has led to tensions with Malta over responsibility for migrant disembarkations.

Meanwhile, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini and Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban pledged in Milan on Tuesday to form a European alliance based on stopping migration at Europe's borders.

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