Members of the Czech opposition have requested an extraordinary session in parliament to object to Interior Minister Vít Rakušan voting through the EU’s planned mandatory migrant relocation scheme.
Both ANO leader Andrej Babiš and SPD leader Tomio Okamura have criticized the Czech government for signing off on the migration reforms proposed by Brussels, regarding it as a betrayal to the country.
Czechia was part of a cohort of EU nations seeking to block the radical plans that will mean member states must accept their fair share of migrants entering the bloc or face a hefty fine for each individual refused access.
However, along with Italy and a number of other opponents, Rakušan backed off his initial position and waved the plans through after late-night talks in Luxembourg on Thursday. Only Poland and Hungary held firm in their opposition to the reforms, while Bulgaria, Malta, Lithuania and Slovakia all abstained.
“We negotiated a fair joint solution, which we sought and actively promoted. No quotas, but financial aid to the most burdened member countries, which the Czech Republic has been implementing for a long time through the programs of the Ministry of the Interior,” Rakušan said in a press release on Friday.
It is understood that Czechia will be temporarily excluded from the mandatory migrant relocation scheme due to its humanitarian response during the Ukraine conflict and the influx of refugees it received.
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The opposition ANO movement, however, criticized Rakušan for rowing back on his position.
“Six years ago we rejected quotas for the redistribution of migrants. It took many hours of hard work, but we did it. Now the minister has trampled on that victorious fight,” Mračková Vildumetzová, the shadow interior minister tweeted on Friday.
Babiš went further, calling it “an incredible betrayal, an incredible failure of our government, which is servile to Brussels.”
“The Czech Republic should decide for itself who will live in it,” he added, warning that his party would not forget the matter and suggesting it will make effective ammunition for the European elections next year.
Okamura told colleagues that Rakušan “did not have the slightest mandate to secretly approve this fundamental and long-term commitment for the Czech Republic,” and claimed the matter had not been discussed in advance in parliament or with the parliamentary opposition.
Both the Hungarian and Polish governments criticized the reforms on Friday, with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki vowing not to pay any financial penalty imposed on his country by Brussels, and Hungarian leader Viktor Orbán accusing the European Commission of wanting to “turn Hungary into an immigration country by force.”