Ilves calls for European unity in refugee crisis ({{commentsTotal}})

President Toomas Hendrik Ilves Source: Photo: AFP/Scanpix

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves has repeatedly stressed a need for more pan-European solidarity in dealing with the worst refugee crisis the continent has seen since the end of WWII.

At a last week's meeting with the Slovakian President Andrej Kiska, Ilves said that Europe can only deal with the refugee crisis if the European Union is united, and it is also an issue of responsibility for the Central and Eastern Europe. Similar sentiments were echoed with Ilves's meeting with the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, last Friday. Tusk hails from Poland, the largest EU country in the region.

"I am worried that the hesitation by some Eastern European countries on the issue of refugee crisis could cause a new rift in Europe, dividing us into west and east. This reproduces unfair stereotypes that we have always fought against," Ilves said.

The EU has shown solidarity with our problems and aspirations both before and after we joined, now it is time to reciprocate, Ilves stressed – a reference to the countries from Central and Eastern Europe which joined the EU in 2004 and have received hundreds of billions of euros in financial support since, all funded by wealthier Western European taxpayers.

"This isn't about numbers or quotas, it is about principle – that of solidarity, which is one of the values of the EU," Estonian president said.

Ilves also highlighted the importance of a sensible and peaceful discussion. "The populist abuse of people's fears and insecurities should be avoided, yet, regrettably, many political parties in Europe are doing exactly that."

Editor: S. Tambur

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