Estonia could open its doors to asylum seekers who have arrived in Sweden, instead of those currently in Italy or Greece. If a plea by Sweden to the European Commission is accepted, the first asylum seekers could arrive in Estonia from Sweden in a few months time. The first refugees from the Middle East will arrive in Estonia in January, from a camp in Italy.
According to a redistribution agreement between EU members, Syrian and Eritrean refugees arriving on the shores of Greece and Italy must be redistributed between member states. However, Estonian Interior Minister Hanno Pevkur said only a few Syrian refugees have arrived in Italy and most have already moved on.
“There are Eritreans who can be moved, but the initiative must come from themselves, meaning they must accept being moved to another member state. As far as I know, Eritrean citizens prefer to move to Germany and Central European states,” Pevkur said.
Pevkur said Sweden has asked the European Commission to redistribute asylum seekers who have arrived in Sweden, having traveled through Europe after landing in Greece or Italy. Pevkur said Swedish information on refugees who arrive there is much better compared to Italy or Greece.
He said approval from the European Commission could come as soon as next week, adding that Estonia could be ready to accept the first refugees from Sweden a few months later.
The refugees from Sweden would be part of the relocation and resettlement deal Estonia made with the EC.
Editor: J.M. Laats