PRAGUE (Reuters) – The Czech Republic on Wednesday joined the growing ranks of European Union countries that reject a United Nations pact to regulate the treatment of migrants worldwide.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was approved in July by all 193 member UN nations except the United States, which backed out last year. It followed the biggest influx of migrants into Europe since World War Two, many fleeing conflicts and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and beyond.
But the Czech cabinet voted early on Wednesday not to sign the accord, a government source told Reuters, in line with indications earlier this month.
“The Czech Republic has long favored the principle of separating legal and illegal migration,” Deputy Prime Minister Richard Brabec told a news conference.
“That is what the Czech Republic’s and other European countries’ suggestions aimed for. The final text does not reflect those proposals.”
The Czech concerns have been shared by the right-wing governments of Hungary and Austria, which have also said they will not sign the agreement at a ceremony in Morocco in December.
Bulgaria’s coalition government, which includes the anti-migration United Patriots party, has also dropped out of the accord, and its parliament is due to vote on the issue on Wednesday. Poland has said it may follow suit.
The non-binding U.N. pact addresses issues such as how to protect people who migrate, how to integrate them into new countries and how to return them to their home countries.
U.N. Special Representative for International Migration Louise Arbour has called moves to shun the accord regrettable and mistaken and said the compact simply aimed to improve the management of cross-border movements of people.
(Reporting by Robert Muller and Jan Lopatka; editing by Darren Schuettler, Larry King)