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Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas replied to the interpellation concerning Estonia's action plan in the refugee and immigration crisis in Europe (No. 69), submitted by members of the Riigikogu Jaak Madison, Martin Helme, Henn Põlluaas, Mart Helme, Uno Kaskpeit, Raivo Põldaru and Arno Sild on 14 September.

The interpellators highlighted the fact that rapid developments have taken place at the foreign border of the European Union and NATO over the past months, with hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants, economic migrants and war refugees having entered Europe. This has caused the European Commission to press for migration quotas. The interpellators wanted to know what authorisation or mandate has permitted the Prime Minister to accept a further 373 individuals in addition to the previous 180.

Rõivas explained that the Estonian representatives have taken their cue from the position approved at the 10 September government meeting and the 11 September European Union Affairs Committee meeting, which said that Estonia is prepared to receive war refugees in a crisis situation on the basis of the capability and population of the country as well as the role of its economy in the European Union, and taking into consideration the wish of the war refugees to resettle in Estonia.

Rõivas said that Estonia is planning to receive up to 180 individuals as a result of the July 20 meeting of the European Union Ministers of the Interior. “Unfortunately, certain Member States, such as Italy, Greece and Hungary, have experienced increasing pressure from migration since August, which is why the European Commission tabled a complementary proposal on 9 September to help the frontline states by relocating the individuals who need protection and who have arrived there,” the Prime Minister said. He added that Estonia has had to reevaluate its capabilities on the basis on this development.

The asylum systems of numerous countries are currently experiencing severe pressure, which has made it very difficult for them to cope alone. So far, the EU crisis measures for relocating the individuals who need protection have only ensured that just a percentage of the individuals who need protection is divided proportionally among the rest of the Member States. The same system would naturally apply to Estonia as well, in case we should come under extraordinary pressure from migration.

Rõivas explained that both the Ministry of Social Affairs under Margus Tsahkna as well as the Ministry of the Interior under Hanno Pevkur are making preparations to receive refugees. “I am convinced that Estonia can help them and find them employment. Several businesses have already notified us of dozens of vacant jobs that they can offer immediately. There are also a number of organisations who have offered housing,” the Prime Minister said. Many Estonians have also expressed their willingness to help, as support persons or volunteers. “Let us show what a dignified nation and society we are and how have the capabilities to cope with such a relatively modest crisis,” Rõivas said.

The Minister of Education and Research Jürgen Ligi replied to the interpellation concerning the effective organisation of studies of pupils with special educational needs (No. 70).

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Marina Kaljurand replied to the interpellation concerning the performance of the role of the European Union presidency in 2018 (No. 75).

During the open microphone, Märt Sults, Jüri Adams and Peeter Ernits took the floor.

Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu

(Please note that the recording will be uploaded with a delay.)

Riigikogu Press Service

Gunnar Paal, +372 631 6351, +372 51 90 2837

[email protected]