Press Advisories

28. 8. 2018 20:41

Prime Minister Babiš and Prime Ministers of Italy and Malta discussed solutions to the migration crisis and the future of the European Union

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš visited Italy and Malta on Tuesday 28 August 2018. Babiš and the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat discussed, in particular, specific measures to address the migration crisis. The topics also included the future of the European Union ad the multiannual financial framework. During his mission, Babiš also visited the EUNAVFOR MED headquarters – Operation Sophia in Rome and the naval and air base in Valletta.

Babiš started his working visit to Italy by visiting the headquarters and operations area of the EUNAVFOR MED mission – Operation Sophia in Rome. This operation has been operational since 22 June 2015 and it is part of a comprehensive reaction of the EU to the problem of migration from Africa and the Middle East. Its purpose is to break the operational model of traffickers in the Mediterranean. It also focuses on building capacities and training of the Libyan navy and coast guard. On this occasion, Prime Minister Babiš also met with three soldiers taking part in the Operation Sophia.

Babiš and the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte discussed migration, the future of the European Union and Czech-Italian relationships over a business lunch. He reminded that the Czech Republic is ready to help Italy deal with the difficult situation stemming from illegal migration. The Czech Republic has already been co-financing a Czech-Italian project in Côte d'Ivoire, which focuses on helping returnees. A common interest of both countries is to ensure the protection of external borders, cooperation with third countries, return policy, and fights against smugglers. An important item on the agenda was also regional agreements on disembarkation and establishment of regional disembarkation platforms in third countries. The Czech Prime Minister also pointed out the necessity of improving the return policy and continuation of the Operation Sophia. The CR is ready to be more engaged in helping Africa as well as in relationships between the EU and African countries.

“Italy has significantly reduced the influx of migrants to Europe, which was largely thanks to the Libyan coast guard. I reiterated to the Prime Minister that global pressure on three main steps is necessary. Stopping migration flows and support for countries that are most burdened by the migration pressure—Italy, Greece, Malta and Spain. Another step is to enter into agreements with northern African countries, and the third one is to help in the countries from where the migrants come; there is money for that. It is a pity that four years have been lost because of the discussions about quotas,” Babiš said after the discussion with his Italian counterpart.

Other topics of the meeting included relationship between the European Union and Africa, EU sanctions against Russia, and trade relations between the EU and the USA.

Babiš also discussed Czech-Italian bilateral cooperation with the Italian Prime Minister Conte. Mutual trade has grown considerably in the past six years and Italy has long been one of the six main trading partners of the Czech Republic. The turnover was almost 12.6 billion EUR in 2017. Moreover, many Italian companies have been investing in the Czech Republic, and investments of Czech companies in Italy have also been on the rise. Cooperation has also been developing in the area of space research and space programmes, not only within the European Space Agency but also among Czech and Italian space technology companies.  Furthermore, the Czech Republic cooperates with Italy in the area of the police; Czech policemen operate in Iraq under the leadership of Italian carabinieri and jointly train their Iraqi colleagues.


During his visit to Italy, Babiš also met with Rome's mayor Virginia Raggi. Among other things, he offered her, on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of birth of Jan Amos Komenský in 2020, a sculpture of Komenský to be placed in a large collection of monuments and statues in the Villa Borghese park and Galleria Borghese. “It is a gesture from our country. Jan Amos Komenský used to say that a solution to migration is not relocation of nations but their education for a dignified life in their homeland,“ Andrej Babiš added.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš met with his counterpart Joseph Muscat in Malta. During their meeting, Babiš emphasized the need for a functioning asylum system, cooperation with third countries, and returning refugees to their countries of origin. In the context of negotiations of the multiannual financial framework, more resources should be directed to the protection of the external EU boarder. Babiš also recalled Czech assistance in building the capacities of the Libyan coastal and frontier guards, including in the MEDEVAC programme and others.

“It was a great honour for me; all the more this is actually the first official visit of a Czech Prime Minister here in Malta. Thank you for an interesting exchange of information. As regards migration, it is certainly a priority and it cannot be addressed only through finance; it is necessary to look for a systematic solution in cooperation with North African countries,” Andrej Babiš said after the meeting.

As regards European issues, Babiš emphasized the need to maintain the leading role of the European Council vis-à-vis the Commission and also the readiness of the Czech Republic to discuss the deepening of economic and monetary union.

The two Prime Ministers then honoured the memory of the first Czech president, Václav Havel, by laying a wreath at his monument in Valletta.

In the last part of the agenda, Babiš visited a naval base of the Maltese army. The Maltese Naval Forces are responsible for maritime intelligence security tasks and for search and rescue operations at sea. In the base, the Prime Minister viewed one of the four patrolling boats used by armed forces in connection with migration, and went on a short boat trip to the sea. Finally, the Czech Prime Minister visited an air base of the Armed Forces of Malta.

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