Estonia joins majority in EU refugee talks ({{commentsTotal}})

Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas.
Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas. Source: (Martin Dremljuga/ERR)

European Union leaders reached an agreement to resettle 120,000 asylum-seekers, Estonia didn’t oppose the move.

French President Francois Hollande sent out a straightforward message to EU countries that might refuse to respect the decision to share 120,000 refugees arriving in Greece and Italy. “Those who don't share our values, those who don't even want to respect those principles, need to start asking themselves questions about their place in the European Union," Hollande said -- a reference to Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania, which opposed the resettlement.

Estonia joined the majority in the union and agreed with European Commission-proposed plan, but Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said that checks at EU external borders must be enhanced and the work of rapid response units of the European Border Agency (Frontex) must be strengthened.

“Estonia is ready to help both the member states that are currently in a crisis situation, as well as third countries affected by the refugee crisis. The 1.8 billion euro trust proposed by the EC is a good beginning, but the actual needs are significantly greater,” Rõivas said, adding that Europe must find more resources to help the neighboring countries of Syria.

Rõivas added that more attention should be paid to the root causes of unwanted migration, and to the enhancement of the return policy.

“The worse the situation becomes in the first destination countries of the war refugees, such as Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey, the more likely it is that people undertake a life-threatening journey to Europe,” Rõivas said, proposing to contribute significantly more to the improvement of the conditions in refugee camps by building schools and developing infrastructure, for example.

The EU leaders also agreed to give an extra 1 billion euros to the United Nations refugee agency and World Food Program (WFP) to help them offer food and shelter to people fleeing conflict zones.

Estonia also just decided to allocate 70,000 euros to WFP and 100,000 euros to UNHCR to help the refugees currently in Turkey.

Estonia is expected to resettle over 500 refugees over the next two years.

Editor: S. Tambur



Siim Kallas.

Interview: Siim Kallas on ambitions, Estonian politics, and EU presidency

Following the local elections in October this year, Reform Party founder, former prime minister, EU commissioner, and presidential candidate Siim Kallas took on the job of municipal mayor of Viimsi, a community on the outskirts of Tallinn. In his interview with ERR's Toomas Sildam, Kallas talks about local government, his party, the EU presidency, and perspectives in Estonian politics.

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