European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urged the Czech Republic on Thursday to reconsider its decision to stop accepting migrants under an EU scheme to share asylum seekers who arrived in Greece and Italy.
“I sincerely hope that, as in so many other cases, the European reason, spirit and values will prevail and that the Czech government will reconsider its course so that we do not have to resort to legal infringement procedures, which we will do if nothing changes,” he said, according to the text of the speech made available to the media.
Under the program launched in 2015 to relocate 160,000 refugees in total, the Czech Republic was meant to take in 2,691 people; it accepted 12 last year and none since, which, Juncker said, “saddens me.”
Earlier this week, Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec said the government would withdraw from the scheme entirely due to security concerns and what he described as the “dysfunctionality of the whole system.”
In a February poll by the Czech Academy of Sciences, some 61 percent of respondents said the Czech Republic should not accept any refugees, while only three percent said it should accept them and let them settle down.
Thirty-two percent said they would temporarily accept refugees but would want them to return once things calmed down in their countries of origin.