In recent weeks, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, together with other European countries, have introduced random border checks due to the increased number of incoming refugees. The Austrian had previously stated that he wanted to initiate negotiations between the Central European countries on migration, with the deadline he was waiting for the appointment of the new Slovak government, which took place two weeks ago.
“If we do not yet have a pan-European migration framework, we must try to solve these issues at least in the Central European area, and the Slovak Republic is certainly our essential partner there,” said the Austrian.
“The debate we had in the framework of illegal migration was constructive. I regret that for the first time in the history of Schengen, the borders between the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic were closed last year, but I fully understand that,” said Šutaj Eštok.
He apologized to the Austrians for some of the actions of the previous Slovak government. “The approach of our government in the framework of illegal migration is diametrically different, and we are ready to do everything to protect our native country,” added the Slovak Minister of the Interior.
The ministers also discussed police cooperation between the two countries. The Austrian emphasized that he must continue. “We have to finalize the new contract on police cooperation, which gives the traditionally good cooperation a new quality, a new framework,” said the Austrian. Šutaj Eštok added that cooperation works not only between police officers, but also between fire brigades, for example.
The Czech minister added that he and Šutaj Eštok signed a new agreement on the state border on Thursday, according to which the Czech border with Slovakia remains the same.
Some of the actions of the new Slovak minister after his assumption of office caused criticism from opposition parties. Šutaj Eštok, for example, dismissed Slovak police chief Štefan Hamran at the end of October, just a few days before his retirement. He also abolished the positions of two police vice presidents.
He suspended several criminally prosecuted members of the police, who are investigating corruption cases from the time of the previous government of the Direction-Social Democracy party of the current Prime Minister Robert Fico.
According to some lawyers, the new interior minister did not have the authority to make these decisions. Šutaj Eštok, on the other hand, claims that he is proceeding in accordance with the law. On Thursday, he repeated, among other things, that as the Minister of the Interior, he had no other option than to put criminally prosecuted police officers off duty. “Otherwise, I would be the one breaking the law,” said Šutaj Eštok. According to him, those dismissed from the police force were more “politicians than police officials”.