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Statement on Foreign Policy adopted at a meeting of Senior Officials of the Czech Republic 1 November 2016

 

The meeting of senior officials on 1 November 2016 was attended by the President of the Republic, the President of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, the Chairman of the  Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of Defence. The senior officials discussed issues related to migration crisis management and the fight against terrorism, the question of the proposed European Security and Defence Union, the current situation in Turkey, the regime of sanctions against the Russian Federation, and the question of Brexit.

Regarding the search for a solution to the migration crisis, the senior officials agree on the necessity to promote within the EU a comprehensive approach combining steps aimed at addressing the causes of the current Europe-bound migration wave with stronger protection of the EU’s external border. The senior officials expressed their support for migration compacts introducing measures designed to enhance cooperation, namely with the source countries, so as to reduce the influx of illegal migrants into Europe. It is necessary to strike a balance between, on the one hand, the rights of refugees and asylum seekers and, on the other, the need to ensure the security of receiving countries. The senior officials further emphasized the need to reinforce the capability to prevent terrorist threats, including the risk of extremist infiltration of migration flows.

The senior officials agree that the Czech Republic needs to take an active approach to the strengthening of European security and defence. The North Atlantic Alliance, with the strong transatlantic link, remains the cornerstone of the territorial defence of the Czech Republic and of Europe. However, the EU has to enhance the protection of its external border, including the capacity of Frontex, as well as its crisis management capability in order to tackle crises in its neighbourhood. In this context, the Czech Republic intends to focus on the usability of the EU Battlegroups, the development of military capabilities and the building of European defence industry cooperation. The senior officials agreed that it is useful to discuss the feasibility of the European army concept.

The senior officials again condemned the July attempt at a military coup in Turkey and expressed their support to the country’s democratically elected representatives. They underlined the Czech Republic’s interest in ensuring stability and European standards of democracy and human rights in Turkey, as well as in further deepening of Czech-Turkish cooperation. The EU-Turkey migration agreement has contributed to a significant decline in the number of migrants coming to Greece; therefore it is crucial to ensure that both parties continue to implement it in the future.

Another topic for discussion were the sanctions against Russia. It is impossible to ignore flagrant violations of international standards and commitments, such as the Russian Federation’s annexation of Crimea and involvement in the conflict in Eastern Ukraine. However, at the same time, it is in the interest of all parties involved to remove, as soon as possible, the causes that have triggered the imposition of sanctions. The EU’s economic sanctions are linked to implementation of the Minsk agreements, which means that the continued existence of the sanctions depends on the development of the situation in Eastern Ukraine.

Regarding the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU – Brexit – the senior officials agree that the UK’s withdrawal must not undermine the European integration project. The UK remains the Czech Republic’s close ally and it is in our interest to develop the best possible model for EU-UK cooperation. Such a model would require respect for all four freedoms – free movement of goods, services, capital and people.

Finally, the senior officials approved a framework plan of visits to and from abroad for the year 2017. The plan reflects the Czech Republic’s foreign policy priorities and takes into account Czech export interests.

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