The meeting of President of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Eiki Nestor and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu with the delegation of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Parliament focused on the reasons for migration crisis and the possibilities for resolving it.
Nestor said at the meeting that Estonia took the obligations agreed upon in the European Union seriously. “Our fundamental position is that we wish to speak with the applicants for international protection before they arrive in our country,” Nestor said. He remarked that the government of Greece had agreed to that, and expressed hope that a similar agreement would be soon made with Italy.
At the meeting with the Italian colleagues, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson said that the most important things were common security of us all, and the citizens who felt safe. “We have to proceed from that when we look for solutions to the migration crisis,” Mihkelson said. In his opinion, the problem of migration will remain with us for decades, and it is necessary to deal with its causes. “Cooperation is very important in combating common threats,” Mihkelson said. “And there is more unity in Europe now than we dared to think of six months ago.”
Mihkelson said that Italy was not alone in solving the migration crisis. “As a border country, we understand very well what the pressure of migration means,” he added. “Although Estonia has few resources, we have taken our contribution in securing the external borders of the European Union very seriously.”
Mihkelson said that Estonia had experienced what it meant when Europe had no unity. “We remained an occupied country for 50 years, and therefore, seeing the deep problems of today, we are for the unity of Europe,” Mihkelson emphasised. “We will be able to overcome our problems only if we are united, and care about each other’s worries and security problems. Considering all sources of threats and real threat factors, we have to think what else could be done so that the unity of the EU would be preserved also after 20–30 years.”
In the opinion of the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, it is necessary to perceive existing threats and shape our policy on the basis of them. According to him, as close cooperation as possible with its partners and allies is of special importance for Estonia. “This does not concern only the countries in the neighbourhood of immediate threats, but also the capability of the whole Western world to remain in competition and to ensure its security,” he said.
The guests pointed out that in general, Europe had two main problems – in the North, the relations with Russia, and in the South, the problems of the Middle East and migration. They admitted that it was important for Europe to deal with solving these problems together, but in the issue of migration, Italy and Greece had been left alone.
The meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committees was attended by Barbi Pilvre, Anne Sulling, Andres Herkel and Henn Põlluaas. The delegation of the Italian Parliament is in Estonia at the invitation of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu. The purpose of the visit is strengthening bilateral relations. Tomorrow, the delegation from Italy will meet with the members of the European Union Affairs Committee and the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu.
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