Estonia rejects Commission's criticism over admission of refugees (8)
The Estonian Ministry of the Interior has rejected criticism from the European Commission alleging that the Baltic States have neglected to relocate asylum-seekers without sufficient reason, as potential asylum-seekers have been unable to meet the Baltics' excessive conditions.
"Estonia's contribution to settling the migrant crisis has been constructive and responsible," Deputy Secretary General for Public Order and Migration Policy Raivo Küüt told BNS on Tuesday. "If we look at the speed of the relocation of war refugees in EU member states more broadly and compare it with Estonia, there is nothing to reproach us with when it comes to offering our aid."
The Baltic Times reported on Monday that the Baltics' criteria have displeased Brussels. In its most recent monthly report, the European Commission remarked that "Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have rejected relocation requests without providing substantiated reasons or on grounds other than those specified in the Council Decisions on relocation."
While the report had a recommendatory tone, the European Commission is pressing the three member states to acknowledge the situation.
"In rejecting relocation requests we have cited only the grounds specified in the Council decisions," explained Küüt. "It means we have the right to refuse a relocation request if we can see on the basis of the data available to us that the person may pose a threat to national security or public order."
The official noted that a member state had the right to decide whom to let and whom not to let onto their territory. "We base our decisions on the files drawn up on the individuals, data retrieved from databases and interviews conducted with each of the persons to be relocated," he added.
The Commission has voiced its displeasure with the criteria used by the Baltic States in two successive monthly reports on relocation; the latest such report was published on July 13.
EU member states have agreed to relocate, on the basis of a quota system, a total of 160,000 war refugees who have arrived in Greece and Italy to other countries over the course of two years.
By July 21, member states had relocated a total of 3,362 war refugees, inluding 2,485 people from Greece and 877 from Italy. Another 802 people had been relocated from Turky by July 13 on the basis of an agreement concluded between the EU and Turkey.
To date, Estonia has relocated a total of 31 war refugees from Greece.