Reinsalu: No plans to take Moria camp migrants, may grant financial aid

Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa).
Foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Estonia is not likely to take any displaced people left homeless after a fire at a migrant camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) has said. At the same time, financial aid may be forthcoming, he said.

"Estonia has on previous occasions helped with solutions to similar humanitarian crisis via various sorts of aid, either equipment supplies or financially. I think this would be worth considering in this case too, though the government has not yet reached a decision," Reinsalu told ERR Wednesday.

"My view is that Estonia should not participate in any type of [migrant] redistribution mechanisms, however," he said.

Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis called on the European Union Tuesday to provide "tangible assistance" after a fire destroyed the Moria camp on Lesbos, leaving around 12,000 people homeless.

The country is also facing confrontation with Turkey. Lesbos lies just off the coast of Turkey.

President of the European Council Charles Michel visited Lesbos earlier in the week, pledging stronger support for countries on the EU's periphery.

Reinsalu said preparations are underway to allocate the aid, adding the issue may be on the agenda at the cabinet's regular Thursday meeting.

The European Commission plans to launch a new initiative aimed at shaping the union's migration policy, including a mechanism for the redistribution of migrants.

At the same time, a diplomatic source familiar with EU matters told ERR that little progress has been made on migration deals since Estonia held the rotating Council of the EU presidency in the second half of 2017.

While Estonia agreed in principle to take several hundred migrants under the EU plan following the migrant crisis which started in 2015, in practice the numbers that arrived were more in the dozens.

In June this year, there were a little over 60 migrants staying at Estonia's two centers in Vao, Lääne-Viru County and Vägeva, Jõgeva County.

Estonia declined to sign up to the UN's global compact on migration late in 2019.

Other EU countries have similarly taken different lines in the wake of the recent Moria incident. While Germany has pledged to take on 1,500 more people in addition to a deal already agreed to take orphans, Austria says it will not admit any migrants.

Latvia and Lithuania have similarly declined to take on any Moria migrants, Latvian public broadcaster LSM's English-language page reports, though no aid in lieu was mentioned.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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