Interior Minister Vít Rakušan (STAN) will ask the government on Wednesday to extend border controls with Slovakia for another 30 days because of migrants entering the EU via the so-called Western Balkan route. Otherwise, they would have ended on December 12, and the Rakušan considers their continuation necessary.
He will discuss the border regime during the Christmas holidays with Police President Martin Vondrášek. Rakušan considers introducing controls inside the Schengen area to be an exceptional instrument, not an endless one. However, at the moment, he still finds an extension for another month to be necessary.
The regime, which has been in force between the Czech Republic and Slovakia since the end of September, can operate under Schengen rules for no longer than half a year, i.e., until the end of March.
“But we don’t want to wait until then, we want to negotiate with the Slovak side and gradually deploy, for example, random joint patrols on the Slovak side of the border and so on,” the Austrian said.
He claimed that the measures were adequate and that diplomatic efforts to reduce migration, such as pressure on Serbia to align its visa policy with the EU, were also fruitful.
The last time the government decided to extend controls was on October 27. After the initial phase, the European Commission must be informed before the announcement of rules. In exceptional cases, they can last a maximum of two years.
Foreigners arriving mainly from Syria use the Czech Republic as a transit country, wanting to continue through it to other EU countries. The route goes via Hungary and Serbia.
Migration is up 170 percent
The number of migrants entering EU countries illegally along the so-called Balkan route increased by 170 percent year-on-year between January and September, according to the border agency Frontex.
Two hundred twenty-eight thousand unauthorized refugees were apprehended at the EU’s external border in the first nine months of this year, the most in that period since 2016. The number of refugees entering the EU illegally increased by 70 percent year-on-year between January and September. The Balkan route showed the highest increase, followed by the Eastern Mediterranean countries, where numbers rose by 118 percent.