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At its today’s sitting, the European Union Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) supported the resettlement of 80 persons from Turkey to Estonia during the next two years. This decision conformed to the positions of other thematic committees of the Riigikogu. Estonia will receive 40 persons from Turkey this year and 40 persons next year.

The European Union Affairs Committee took into consideration the positions of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Constitutional Committee and the Legal Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu. The members of the Constitutional Committee found that the positions of the Government were not in conflict with any legislative acts. The Committee did not express opinion about the numbers presented. The Foreign Affairs Committee and the Legal Affairs Committee supported the positions of the Government.

Deputy Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Jaak Madison said that he did not support the position of the Government. In Madison’s opinion, the suggested number of persons to be resettled is disproportionate in comparison to our close neighbours Latvia and Lithuania, because Latvia has not expressed readiness to resettle anybody and Lithuania has promised to receive up to 40 persons.

Member of the Committee Oudekki Loone said that today’s decision was motivated by the situation where the European Union as a whole, and its southern member states, had become more effective in curbing migration pressure. “Therefore we are reasonably sure that the number of people who need resettling will not increase in the nearest future, and we can assure the people of Estonia that today’s decision about the number of people is final,” Loone added.

Loone thinks that experience has shown that Estonia is able to receive around 40–50 persons in a year, providing them the same services we provide our citizens. “We can express our good will to help both the countries under great migration pressure and the people who have lost their homes,” Loone said. “In this way, Estonia has shown solidarity with the international community, and we can hope others will help us in a similar situation.”

Member of the European Union Affairs Committee Kalle Palling found that Estonia was able to resettle more persons who needed international protection. In his opinion, Estonia is now contributing considerably less than the society agreed to do after the debates in 2015, when the country was ready to receive 550 persons.

Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt told the Committee that Estonia was receiving persons who needed international protection in accordance with its abilities, putting the security of the people of Estonia first. “This number reflects the capability of the community to receive people and integrate them into the Estonian society,” Anvelt said. The Minister thinks that tackling of the migration and refugee crisis should be taken beyond the borders of the European Union, and it is necessary to cooperate with third countries, like the countries of origin or the transit countries. In his opinion, it is necessary to determine before resettling if the persons need international protection or are just economic migrants.

Anvelt said that by today, 188 persons had arrived in Estonia from Turkey, Greece and Italy, and 101 of them had stayed here.

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
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