V4 call for hotspots to have detention capacity as Czech PM proposes moving Schengen border

Mariusz Blaszczak, Milan Chovanec, Robert Kaliňák, photo: CTK

Last year the EU launched hotspots, reception centres to register the migrants arriving in the bloc in enormous numbers. Now the Visegrad Four countries are calling for them to also be used as detention centres. At the same time, the Czech prime minister has proposed another way to deal with the migration crisis: moving the outer border of Schengen.

Mariusz Blaszczak, Milan Chovanec, Robert Kaliňák, photo: CTK
In a joint memorandum issued after a meeting in Prague on Tuesday, the interior ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary said they continued to oppose quotas for accepting refugees imposed by the European Union.

The Poles had acceded to the plan but have now “returned” to the Visegrad Four, according to the Czech minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec.

Speaking to Czech Television, Mr. Chovanec said the EU’s quota system had thus far been a flop.

“Europe approved the relocation of 140,000 people. As of today, 259 people have been relocated. That system is failing. That system cannot work. Migrants in the Federal Republic of Germany want to decide on which federal state they will be in, meaning the system doesn’t even work in Germany. We don’t want to continue exploring a subject which is not a solution.”

Photo: CTK
What the Visegrad Four do want to see is security on the Schengen Zone’s external borders beefed up. They have pledged to send more police to help out in states such as Macedonia and Slovenia.

But the Central European states see the key to enhanced border protection in the registration of new arrivals. All the proposed hotspots in states on the frontline of the migration crisis – such as Greece and Italy – should be established right away, they say. Of 11 planned, only three are up and running.

What’s more, the V4 are pushing for a change in the conception of hotspots. Instead of merely registering refugees, they “must also have detention capacities,” they say. Migrants would not be allowed to move on until they have been identified and recorded.

Meanwhile, the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, said on Tuesday that the outer border of the Schengen Zone should be moved if current efforts to reinforce it prove ineffective.

“We have to create an alternate border system at the line of Bulgaria and Macedonia. We need to prepare technical measures so that we could regulate migration there.”

Bohuslav Sobotka, photo: Filip Jandourek
If this proposal came to pass, Turkey and EU member Greece – whose handling of the migration crisis has been questioned – would be left outside a “new Schengen” and all efforts focused on Bulgaria’s and Macedonia’s southern borders.

Visegrad Four experts, coordinated by Prague, are set to travel to Macedonia on a fact-finding mission within the next two weeks.