Czech foreign minister says more effort needed to tackle root causes of uncontrolled migration

Photo: Gémes Sándor/SzomSzed, CC BY-SA 3.0

Addressing the UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said a greater effort was needed to address the root problem of migration in countries such as Syria and Iraq. He said the past months had clearly shown that Europe was unable to deal with a migrant wave of this size and it was hurting both Europeans and the refugees themselves.

Lubomír Zaorálek,  photo: archive of Czech Foreign Ministry
Addressing the UN summit, Foreign Minister Zaorálek underlined the dangers of uncontrolled mass migration and the assumption that Europe could somehow resolve the problems of countries in the Middle East and northern Africa by taking in and redistributing millions of displaced people. He said the past months had clearly shown that this was hurting both Europe’s inhabitants and those in search of a new home.

“If we are going to talk about human rights, we have to say that it is not only the human rights of migrants which are threatened, but the security of the inhabitants of the transit states through which they pass and the states they settle in. We have seen that an excessive migrant wave such as this has a negative impact on the security and stability of Europe and, if the problem is left unaddressed, then Europe which has always promoted good-governance, democracy and freedom may find itself unable to defend those values.”

Photo: Gémes Sándor/SzomSzed,  CC BY-SA 3.0
The Czech foreign minister pointed out that many European countries are rethinking their open door policy and sending migrants back to their home countries, the price being paid for the fact that Europe had failed to make a clear distinction from the start between economic migrants and war refugees. With millions more displaced people living in refugee camps in Syria, Jordan and elsewhere the minister stressed the urgency of preventing a further movement of people. He welcomed the most recent Syrian cease-fire agreement, noting that despite set-backs which undermined trust the parties involved in seeking a solution must push ahead. In the meantime, Zaorálek said it was essential to improve living conditions in the countries from which people were fleeing. In an interview for Czech Radio he said the Czech Republic was doing its utmost to help.

Homs,  Syria,  photo: CTK
“We have for some time now been active in helping Syria and Iraq. In Iraq we are helping the government fight terrorists by providing ammunition, by training pilots and police officers. The same goes for countries in northern Africa, such as Tunisia. In Syria we have an extensive humanitarian programme that is being planned three to four years ahead thanks to the good work of our embassy in Damascus. In helping the states of northern Africa we condition that support on an agreement that they will take steps to improve living conditions, fight corruption, and others to curb the migrant wave coming from their country.”

The UN assembly will also hear an address on the subject from Czech President Miloš Zeman, a fierce critic of migration.