Estonia does not support mandatory quotas for refugees, but it did expect greater support from the EU in compensating the costs incurred in connection with war refugees from Ukraine, MP Toomas Kivimägi (Reform), chairperson of the Constitutional Committee of the Riigikogu, said in Paris on Monday.
In his speech at the Interparliamentary Conference on Migration Challenges on Monday, Kivimägi noted that Estonia has received more than 38,000 war refugees from Ukraine since February 24, according to a Riigikogu press release.
"This is 2.9 percent of our population," he said. "To better understand the proportions, this would equal France giving shelter to 1.9 million refugees."
The committee chairman noted that the Riigikogu is slated to adopt a supplementary budget at the end of May, nearly €250 million of which is earmarked for expenses related to the refugees.
"Despite the big challenge we are facing, Estonia still does not support mandatory quotas for refugees in the EU," he said. "We find that it is better, if possible, for refugees to stay in their neighboring countries and not flee thousands of kilometers from their homeland. Most of the refugees are planning to return to Ukraine after the end of the war."
Kivimägi believes that the humane thing to do is let refugees choose for themselves what country they want to stay in right now.
Nonetheless, he continued, Estonia expects the EU to take on a bigger role in compensating costs incurred in connection with receiving refugees to those member states that have accepted more refugees. He also believes that the role of the EU in strengthening its external border must grow as well.
"It's not fair to leave member states on their own with these costs," Kivimägi said at the conference. "We have to protect our borders as well, and we have to do so together."
Kivimägi is accompanied at the Interparliamentary Conference on Migration Challenges by MP Eduard Odinets (SDE), deputy chair of the Riigikogu's Constitutional Committee.
Editor: Aili Vahtla