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At its today's sitting, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) discussed the European migration policy, and heard the positions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, the Police and Border Guard Board, the Head of the Estonian Refugee Council and the Members of the European Parliament Urmas Paet and Indrek Tarand.

Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Hannes Hanso said that when we deal with the issue of refugees and exiles in Estonia, we should rely on facts and legislation, and not resort to sowing of fear and populism.

In Hanso’s opinion, there is no reason to speak about all refugees staying permanently in Estonia, because it is also possible that they return to their homeland when their lives are no longer in danger there.

“There are many examples of this from many countries of the world,” Hanso said. “When we hold a debate on refugees, we must remember that in the course of history tens of thousands of Estonians have been forced to flee from their homes into exile abroad, and we have always been grateful to the countries who offered protection to our people.”

In the opinion of the Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Enn Eesmaa, Estonia should act decisively and constructively, and defend its positions. If possible, Estonia should concentrate on receiving orphans or express the wish to receive families consisting of close relatives.

Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee Valdo Randpere, who has himself lived in Sweden as a refugee, pointed out that Estonia could start a voluntary refugee programme independently of the possible quota.

In the opinion of the member of the Committee Anne Sulling, Estonia should, within the limits of its possibilities, prepare for receiving a certain number of refugees with other countries of Europe. She also thought that it is important to tackle the original reasons for the refugee problem by contributing to relevant development cooperation and humanitarian aid projects.

Recruitment of refugees for work was also discussed at the sitting of the Committee. According to the European directive, they get the right to enter labour market not later than nine months after applying for asylum.

On today’s International Children’s day, it was noted that there are 51 million refugees in the world, and nearly half of them are children. It is important to understand that more than 80 percent of the refugees in the world are in developing countries, and only a small part of refugees head for Europe to look for protection.

Photos of the Committee sitting.

Riigikogu Press Service
Epp-Mare Kukemelk
Phone: +372 631 6356; +372 51 53 903
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