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Czech Prime Minister chastises Merkel over refugee crisis

Bohuslav Sobotka has said Merkel's policies are partly to blame for the refugee crisis. He also reiterated the Czech Republic's commitment to helping the EU mitigate the crisis.

Sobotka criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday for saying that Germany would take in an unlimited number of refugees, insisting it has led to deep divisions across Europe.

"Germany sent a signal that was seen and heard in many parts of the Middle East and North Africa. That has spurred illegal migration toward Europe," the Czech prime minister said in an interview with German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Sobotoka emphasized regardless that his country was working in solidarity with the EU on the refugee issue. "We are in solidarity," he said. "We have sent police to Slovenia, Hungary and Macedonia. We have granted humanitarian aid to Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia."

"No one from Brussels had to force us to do these things," he added.

Upholding states' autonomy

However, Sobotka also emphasized the importance of individual EU member states maintaining autonomy.

"We reject the pressure to accept a centrally managed migration policy, which only strengthens the radicals and can damage the idea of Europe," he said.

The leader also rejected Austrian Prime Minister Werner Faymann's threat to cut EU funding for member states that don't comply with his refugee policy. "So an argument only continues to split Europe," he said.

blc/jil (Reuters, AFP)

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