Visegrad leaders debate back-up plan for migrant crisis
The leaders of the Visegrad Four and representatives from Macedonia and Bulgaria met in Prague on Monday to discuss plans for closing the Macedonian and Bulgarian borders with Greece, should Athens and Ankara fail to meet their obligations in bringing the flow of migrants under control. Although the Visegrad group insists this is merely a back-up plan, the summit has raised concern about new divisions in Europe.
The mood backstage however was far from relaxed as the six leaders discussed what the media have dubbed Plan B for the migrant crisis – involving the closing of borders between Macedonia and Greece and Bulgaria and Greece should Athens and Ankara fail to meet their obligations in bringing the flow of migrants under control. This would in effect move the EU buffer zone to Bulgaria’s and Macedonia’s borders –although the latter is not a member of the EU and Bulgaria is not a member of Schengen- and cut off Greece in the process.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka stressed after the talks that this was merely a back-up plan and essential as it was to have one, the Visegrad group remained committed to supporting the EU agreements reached with Turkey and Greece.
“I want to stress that we have agreed on the need to support a joint European solution. The migrant crisis is our common problem and the only way forward is for us to find a joint solution.”
Meanwhile, with the EU summit on migration due to begin on Thursday, commentators are speculating on how the plans discussed at the Visegrad summit will affect the mood in the 28-member bloc. The majority of German papers view Plan B as a rebellion of the Visegrad four against the migration policies of Chancellor Merkel, noting that never before had Germany been so isolated in the European Union.