Czech borders with Austria, Slovakia may reopen in June, says Prime Minister

Czech borders with Austria and Slovakia could reopen on June 8 or 15, but reopening borders with Germany will take longer, says Czech PM

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 13.05.2020 14:56 (updated on 13.05.2020)

Prague, May 13 (CTK) – Czech borders with Austria and Slovakia could reopen on June 8 or 15, but the situation concerning the spread of coronavirus in neighboring Germany is worse, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) said in an interview for Blesk today.

This is why the Czech Republic is not yet negotiating with Germany regarding opening the borders, he added.

Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (Social Democrats, CSSD) told CTK that next week, he would negotiate the schedule of opening borders with representatives of Slovakia and Austria. The borders could reopen in mid-June, he added.

Such a discussion with both countries is a priority for the Czech Republic, Petříček said.

Austrian Tourism Minister Elisabeth Kostinger also called opening the borders with the Czech Republic and Slovakia a priority.

The government must also keep addressing the situation of commuters to and from neighboring countries for work, as they currently wait quite long at border crossings, Babiš said.

In late April, the Czech government allowed commuters to travel to the neighboring countries once again. Originally, the government ordered travelers to undergo obligatory coronavirus tests once every two weeks, but later prolonged the interval to one month.

Babiš said he had discussed a possible easing of traveling between the Czech Republic and Slovakia with his Slovak counterpart Igor Matovič.

Slovaks did not like the ‘transit’ of Ukrainians who work in the Czech Republic and travel home across Slovakia, he said.

“I naturally told the Slovak PM that the Czech Republic and Slovakia are the closest countries historically and that we should do so (reopen borders) separately. But as far as I know, there is no consensus about this in the Slovak government,” he added.

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Despite that, Petříček is intensively negotiating about the opening of the borders within the “Slavkov format,” comprised of Czechia, Slovakia and Austria, Babiš added.

Babiš said he thought that all the three countries might open their borders on June 8 or 15.

The “Slavkov format” of meetings of the Czech and Slovak prime ministers and the Austrian chancellor was created at a January 2015 summit in Slavkov (Austerlitz), near Brno. The area is known as the site of the Battle of the Three Emperors, in which the Austrian and Russian armies clashed with Napoleon’s army on December 2, 1805.