Croatian Foreign Minister Miro Kovac met his Czech counterpart Lubomir Zaoralek in Prague on Friday during a two-day visit to the Czech Republic and one of the topics discussed was the European Commission's plan to introduce mandatory quotas for migrants, Czech media reported.
"In Europe you cannot impose solutions without taking into consideration national specificities and the sensitivity of certain issues. Imposing solutions is not in the European spirit of consensus," Kovac told a joint press conference with Zaoralek.
Kovac said that the European Commission's proposal should be given a thorough consideration and that he would advocate a debate on the matter.
Earlier this week, the European Commission unveiled a proposal to reform the Common European Asylum System keeping the basic principle according to which consideration of asylum applications should be the responsibility of the country which the asylum seeker entered first and introducing a corrective mechanism that should ensure a fair distribution of asylum seekers if a country comes under disproportionate pressure from migrants.
The corrective mechanism will be activated as soon as it is observed that a country is faced with a disproportionately large number of asylum claims in relation to its size and economic strength. Once the number of asylum seekers exceeds 150 percent of the reference value, which is determined based on a country's GDP and number of inhabitants), all new asylum seekers will be relocated to other member states.
Member states will be allowed to opt out of this mechanism, in which case they will have to pay a solidarity contribution of 250,000 euros for each asylum seeker they would otherwise be responsible for and the money will go to the country that has accepted the migrant in question.
The Czech Republic and the other Visegrad Group countries, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, have rejected the idea of mandatory quotas and have been joined by Latvia and Estonia. They claim that refugees know very well where they want to go and cannot be forced to stay in any other country.
Kovac and Zaoralek agreed that at a time when Europe was under increasing pressure it was important to keep the Western Balkans stable.
"Both countries are agreed that it is important to support the enlargement policy," Zaoralek said.
During his visit to Prague, Kovac also met with Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. Meetings with the speakers of both houses of parliament and with members of the Croatian community were also scheduled.