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The Foreign Affairs Committees of the Estonian and Finnish parliaments held a joint field meeting at the Ämari Air Base yesterday. The discussion focused on the security situation in the Baltic Sea region, the EU response to the migrant crisis, and the fight against terrorism.

The Chairman of the Committee Sven Mikser emphasised that protecting the external borders of the European Union and registering refugees are crucial for controlling the migrant crisis, although it would be unfair and counter-productive to treat all the refugees as a security risk.

Mikser noted that Estonia is not a particularly attractive destination country for the refugees today, while our EU partners are facing challenges that could jeopardise the future of the Schengen agreement and the free movement of people within Europe, and that such a development could seriously threaten Estonia’s security. “These are challenges that need to be addressed from the foundation of EU solidarity and unity,” Mikser said.

Member of the Committee Henn Põlluaas said that the Schengen visa system could fall apart if the present situation continues and the EU fails to take quick steps.

Erkki Tuomioja, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Finnish parliament, said that it was in the best interests of all the Member States that the European countries had common opinions on the issue of borders. He highlighted the role of the Finnish Red Cross and the volunteers in receiving the more than 30,000 refugees that have entered the country this year. He said that these are not economic migrants and that most come from Iraq. Finland hopes that after successfully completing the integration programmes, they will contribute to economic development.

The Chairman of the Finnish Committee Antti Kaikkonen said that giving international protection would be decided on a case-by-case basis. The activities of ISIS in Europe have made the Finnish society suspicious that there might be terrorists among the refugees.

The members of the Estonian Committee also answered the questions of their Finnish colleagues in connection with the ratification of the border treaty between Estonia and Russia.

Jaak Tarien took the guests around the Ämari Air Base. Members of the Committees also learned about the NATO Baltic air policing mission that is currently being carried out by Germany from the Ämari Base.

The field meeting was attended by the Chairman of the Committee Sven Mikser and members Anne Sulling, Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Juhan Parts, Eerik-Niiles Kross and Henn Põlluaas.

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
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