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Estonian ambassador to support migration compact at UN General Assembly

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE).
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Despite Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu's (Pro Patria) calls not to do so, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) said that Estonian Ambassador to the UN Sven Jürgenson will represent Estonia in supporting the Global Compact for Migration at the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday night.

"Hundreds of legally non-binding declarations are voted on at the UN General Assembly every year," Mr Mikser told ERR on Wednesday. "It is regrettable that the government did not reach a decision one way or another regarding this issue, which is why I based my instructions to the ambassador on the declaration adopted by the Riigikogu. It states that the legislative body of the Republic of Estonia supports the global migration compact."

He added that hundreds of resolutions similar to the migration compact are voted on every year at the UN, and the government has not formed a position on any one of them, as that is the job of the ministry.

"When the vote happens late tonight, Estonia's vote of support will not become legally binding or an international agreement for us," Mr Mikser explained. "We are sovereign in shaping our own immigration policy and border policy going forward as well. We have voted in the UN for a number of other resolutions not discussed by the government. This is the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This is a political issue attempting to be framed as a legal issue."

Reinsalu, however, still believes that the migration compact will establish legal obligations for the Estonian state in the future. 

"In my letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I have highlighted a slew of serious problems related to the migration compact," Mr Reinsalu said on Wednesday. "I will clearly repeat my position, which I also expressed in my letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: the Estonian ambassador should not vote in favour of the migration compact today. The Government of the Republic has not given its mandate for signing the agreement."

According to the minister, he proposed convening an expert commission, to be led by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that would assess the political and legal consequences of the migration compact.

"We have absolutely no need to rush with this," Mr Reinsalu stressed.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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