Migrant crisis: Czech Republic to help Bosnia and Herzegovina

Migrant crisis: Czech Republic to help Bosnia and Herzegovina
Author: frontex.europa.eu|Caption: Migratory map, Jan-Jun 2018
24 / 07 / 2018, 12:00

The Minister of Interior (and Minister of Foreign Affairs) Jan Hamáček (ČSSD, Socialists) proposed to send a financial aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina which deals with migrant crisis and needs to improve its border protection, and asked for assistance in June. It is expected that the Government will agree to send CZK 25 million (USD 1.13 million) within the program called „Help in Place“ and will continue to support the Balkan states which face the crisis consequences. It is a long-term priority of the Czech Government, of the other V4 countries, and of the EU, that the Balkan migrant route remains closed. In addition to the financial aid the Czech Police has sent 1275 police officers abroad to assist the external borders protection since 2015.

In 2018 within the program „Help in Place“ the Government plans to spend CZK 150 million (USD 6.77 million) in total. The program concerns three priority regions: the Middle-East, the Balkans, and the region of Sahel/North Africa. The Czech Republic’s political stance to the migrant crisis has always been based rather on improving the external border protection and assisting the regions and countries of migrant origin, than to redistribute the asylum seekers accross the member states. The financial aid is one of the instruments of this policy. In 2017 the Czech Republic has sent comparable aid to Macedonia and to Serbia, and there where also more than 50 Czech Police officers to support their local colleagues in joint patrols at the borders with Greece and Bulgaria and thus protecting the external borders of the EU.

See also: Czech Borders Protection to Face the Migrant Crisis

According to the International Organization for Migration 7,000 migrants came to Bosnia and Herzegovina between January and June 2018, and about 2,500 are still on the territory of the small (51,000 km2) Balkan republic bordering Croatia to the North and West, Serbia to the East, and Montenegro to the South-East. According to the last population census (2013) there is about 3.8 million inhabitants of three major ethnic/religious groups: 50.1 % are Bosniaks (mostly muslims), 30.8 % are Serbs (mostly orthodox christians) and 15.4 % are Croats (mostly catholic christians).

The Czech Republic, for comparison, has 10.56 million inhabitants, GDP per capita is USD 22,776 (2017; it is USD 5,561 in Bosina and Herzegovina), and according the Foreign Police Service there is currently 2,669 people with asylum granted, and there were 649 applications for international protection between January and May 2018, including 144 repreated ones. Rather a very small part of applications see any form of international protection granted in the Czech Republic.

From the beggining of 2018 the European Border and Coast Guard Agency known as Frontex shows 24,337 illegal border crossings in the Eastern Mediterranean (with almost 9,000 Syrians, 4,500 Irquis, 3000 Turks, 2,500 Afghans and 860 Pakistanis), borders between Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria;and 2,110 crossings in Western Balkans (from Serbia to Hungary and Croatia). Recently 400 – 600 migrants arrive weekly to Bosnia and Herzegovina, mainly by crossing the Serbian borders, the Czech Minister of Interior informs the Government.

„Bosnia is one of the places in the Balkans where the threat is the greatest and our engagement is of critical importance. No Czech deputy sees this kind of aid to Bosnia as an issue,” Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Czech Parliament's Chamber of Deputies and former Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek said.

The aid of 25 million Czech crowns would serve to buy technical equipment necessary for the border protection and to fight illegal crossing attempts with efficiency, such as thermal cameras, binoculars, flashlights, heartbeat detectors, etc. The aid for Bosnia and Herzegovina would be approved this week. 

Earlier this year the Czech Police President General Tomáš Tuhý informed that 1275 police officers were deployed abroad to strenghten the protection of the external borders of the EU since 2015.

In April a detachment of Czech police officers was deployed to Serbia (15) and Macedonia (40) to help their local counterparts patrol the migrant routes. Their deployment was a reaction to the warnings from the German intelligence agencies that the warmer weather might bring a rise in attempts to cross borders illegally. It is what is actually happening with 400 – 600 border crossings occuring every week now in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Until now more than 500 Czech police officers were deployed this year either to help the border states or to the Frontex agency’s missions in Italy, Greece, Turkey, Portugal and Spain. Another 170 are expected to join these missions until the end of the year. In the host countries, the Czech police officers help local police to protect the borders, to observe the public order, and to make regular security and road checks.

“The Visegrad Group was able to push through all it intended, meaning no quotas. Any relocation of migrants would only take place on a voluntary basis and Europe will try to up hotspots outside of Europe as well,” Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said after the last EU summit in Brussels held at the end in June. In reaction to the actual problem of 450 migrants stuck in Italy, the Minister of Interior Jan Hamáček said: "We must focus on the migrant crisis roots and find ways to halt the flow of illegal migrants, including the fight on the smugglers. We will not tackle the migrant crisis by keeping the door of Europe open to uncontrolled migration.  We are also prepared to get involved in the operation under Italian command in support of Libyan security forces."

See also: Survey: feel of safety highly increased in the Czech republic in the past two years

These initiatives and instruments are a projection of the Czech general policy towards the illegal migration and migrant crisis: to ensure external border protection, and to send help to the regions where conflicts occur, rather than redistribute the asylum seekers accross the European Union member states. A relocation of asylum seekers is not an effective answer, and has little support among the Czech citizens (in December 2017 about 70 % were against any relocation of migrants, and about 80 % disagreed with any mandatory system of relocation according to the Public Opinion Research Center).

Tags of article

This website uses to provide services, personalize ads, and analyzing visitor cookies. By using this site you agree.More information