Czech police officers to help enforce EU-Turkey agreement in Greece

Migrants at a makeshift camp in Idomeni, Greece, April 23, 2016, photo: CTK

The Czech Republic is to send thirty police officers to Greece on Friday where they will help fulfill the EU’s agreement with Turkey on the return of migrants who attempt to enter the EU via Greece. The officers will be assigned to the European border agency Frontex where they will be directly involved in the process of escorting migrants back to Turkey.

Migrants at a makeshift camp in Idomeni,  Greece,  April 23,  2016,  photo: CTK
The Czech Republic has long called for measures which would help stem the flow of illegal migrants to Europe and has repeatedly offered to help secure both the EU’s outer border and the borders of EU member states along the Balkans route. Although its insistence on a Plan B which envisaged moving the Schengen border to Bulgaria should Greece fail to handle the migrant flow briefly soured Prague’s relations with Athens, the EU agreement with Turkey provided new ground for cooperation. Prague responded to a Greek request for EU members to help enforce the agreement and its officers will now be joining the Frontex patrols along Greece’s borders. Police President Tomáš Tuhý provided details of the mission in a debate on Czech Television on Sunday.

Tomáš Tuhý,  photo: Filip Jandourek
“We now have eleven officers in Greece working within the Frontex agency. These officers are helping with the process of registering migrants. The thirty officers who are due to depart on Friday will be directly involved in escorting illegal migrants back to Turkey. They will boost the ranks of an international team of officers from Germany, Austria and Slovakia who are already fulfilling this task.”

Selecting officers for the job has not been a problem. At the request of the government earlier this year the Czech police presidium compiled a data base of 300 officers with knowledge of foreign languages and experience serving abroad. The database served the force earlier when the Czech Republic responded positively to requests for help from Hungary, Slovenia and Macedonia where it sent dozens of officers to help secure borders. Police President Tuhý said the country would be able to respond flexibly to any future request as well.

“We are in contact with our partners abroad and the situation in the south of Europe is far from stabilized. That is why we have officers helping out in Macedonia and should we be asked to reinforce that assistance we will be able to do so at short notice. Our data base includes officers with experience in different areas, so if we get a request from an individual state or the EU we are able to put together a team at short notice that will be ideally suited for the given mission.”

Idomeni,  Greece,  April 21,  2016,  photo: CTK
The data base of officers has been selected from different parts of the country so that no single region is depleted of experts in the event of more foreign missions taking place simultaneously and the police force has been promised significant reinforcements as a result of the migrant crisis. The ranks of the police are to be expanded by 4,000 recruits by 2020 and 1,500 of them should boost the foreigners’ police in connection with the heightened movement of migrants in Europe in the years to come.