Estonian members of the European Parliament will appeal to European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, to help speed along the return of the Estonian anti-piracy personnel from India.
The 14-man Estonian anti-piracy crew, detained in India for the past 11 months, is still no closer to returning home, despite that fact that all charges against them were dropped on July 10. The one outstanding charge of illegally refueling in Indian waters will be directed against the captain and not the crew, said MEP Tunne Kelam.
The MEPs are currently putting together a letter to Mogherini, to appeal for her help in bringing the men home.
"They are in a situation where they have not been paid for 11 months, not to mention the fact that they lack contact with their loved ones. They have spent six months in the prison like common criminals. They don't have their passports, the Indian police has them. Estonia has sent them temporary travel documents, but the Indian police does not allow these to be handed over," Kelam said.
He added that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has done all in its power, but it is now time to use additional resources in order to secure the rights of Estonian citizens.
Another Estonian MEP, Siiri Oviir, has also previously turned to the former EU foreign affairs representative Catherine Ashton for help, and the latter promised to assist. But now that Mogherini has replaced Ashton, a new petition is necessary, Kelam explained.
"There is no legal case, no crimes. These are our citizens, the citizens of the European Union, and our idea is that a clear signal given by high officials of the union during top-level meetings, showing that the EU is concerned for the well-being of its citizens and asks the Indian government to grant their swift return, is the way forward" Kelam said.
"In my experience and opinion, the more pressure is put on India on different levels - and the EU is an influential partner for India - the more chance there is that the men will be freed sooner rather than later," he said.