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Andres Herkel, a member of the Estonian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), spoke today at the PACE debate on migration, warning that the quotas proposed by the European Commission provoke extremist attitudes.

Herkel said that Estonia understands the concern of the Southern European countries and has contributed to the solution of the problem through FRONTEX and other instruments. Herkel emphasised this argument when criticising the quotas proposed by the European Commission, which fail to take into account the small size of Estonia and our economic possibilities. “This kind of policy provokes extremist attitudes and drives a wedge into our society,” Herkel said.

Estonia’s representative stressed that a definite distinction must be made between economic immigrants and refugees. “The actual refugees are those that need our protection,” Herkel said. He added that we must deal with the roots of the problem rather than the consequences, and referred to the need to put a stop to criminal human trafficking.

Herkel said that although Estonia is not a popular target country for refugees at the moment, we do have painful historical experiences in the issue of migration, in relation to Stalinist deportations, Estonians fleeing the Soviet army by boats across the sea, and the mass immigration of other ethnicities during the Soviet era.

The Riigikogu delegation to the PACE champions Estonia’s interests in the Council of Europe. MPs Hannes Hanso, Mailis Reps and Andres Herkel took part in the PACE Summer Session.

Riigikogu Press Service

Epp-Mare Kukemelk

Phone: 631 6356, 515 3903

[email protected]

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