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Anvelt on migration crisis: To protect country, Estonia also favours fences

Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt (SDE).
Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt (SDE). Source: ERR

Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt (SDE) believes that in building fences along the Hungarian border, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was defending Europe from migrants, adding that Estonia is also in favour of fences if they are needed to likewise protect itself.

Speaking on ETV broadcast "Studio 1" on Thursday, Anvelt said that those who do not have the right to international protection must be kept out of the EU and Estonia.

Accoding to the minister, the EU's biggest mistake when ending up in the migration crisis in 2015 was not taking steps then that are being attempted now retrospectively.

"There is nothing we can do," Anvelt said. "We have to travel to third countries and start defending our border there, yes, and in defending our European values start establishing refugee camps as well. I fully support the policy that we have to address this problem outside of the EU."

The host of the broadcast asked for Anvelt's opinion on whether Orbán was defending Europe in building a fence along the Hungarian border.

"I believe that if he did so with the external border, then he was definitely defending [Europe], yes," said the minister. "We are doing the exact same thing."

He cited as an example this summer's situation, in which many foreigners who had bought tickets to the World Cup in Russia began moving toward Europe.

"Russia itself officially said for the first time that they have lost at least 10,000 people," Anvelt explained. "These were the exact same economic migrants from Bangladesh, somewhere in Senegal and so on that were moving toward Europe."

Anvelt: EU needs solidarity

Asked whether Estonia's migration policy was similar to that of Hungary, i.e. whether Estonia was likewise in favour of fences, Anvelt replied, "To defend our country, certainly."

At the same time, however, he said that there was a difference in Estonia and Hungary's respective understandings of the matter.

"We are also participating out of solidarity," Anvelt said. "We understand that for the EU to endure, what is the most important foundation? The Schengen Area. If Schengen goes, the average person will no longer understand what the EU is needed for, if there is no freedom of movement. We need solidarity for the Schengen Area to endure."

According to the minister, Estonia has contributed according to its abilities to this solidarity. "And even now we have said that we are willing to accept 40 people per year," he continued. "This is what our local governments are capable of absorbing as well."

He also noted that per capita, Estonia is one of the biggest contributors to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, or Frontex.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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