Estonia rejects Commission's criticism over admission of refugees

  • 2016-08-09
  • BNS/TBT Staff/Tallinn

The Estonian Interior Ministry has refuted the criticism of the European Commission claiming that the Baltic nations have declined to relocate asylum-seekers without sufficient reason, as potential asylum-seekers have been unable to meet the Baltics' excessive standards.

"The contribution of Estonia to settling the migrant crisis has been constructive and responsible. If we look at the speed of the relocation of war refugees in European Union member states more broadly and compare it with Estonia, there's nothing to reproach us with when it comes to offering our aid," Raivo Kuut, deputy secretary general of the Estonian Interior Ministry responsible for law enforcement and migration policy, informed BNS today.

As reported, Brussels has voiced displeasure over the Baltics' criteria. In its most recent monthly report, the European Commission stated that "Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have rejected relocation requests without providing substantiated reasons or on grounds other than those specified in the Council Decisions on relocation."

While the report has a recommendatory tone, the European Commission is pushing the member states to respond to the issue.

"In rejecting relocation requests we have cited only the grounds specified in the Council decisions. It means we have the right to refuse a relocation request if we can see on the basis of the data available to us that the person may pose a threat to national security or public order," Kuut explained.

"A member state has the right to decide whom to let, and not to let, into their territory. We base our decisions on the files drawn up on the individuals, data retrieved from databases, and interviews conducted with each of the persons to be relocated," the official added.

The Commission has expressed concern over the guidelines used by the Baltic States in two successive monthly reports on relocation. The most recent such report was released on July 13.

EU member states have agreed to move 160,000 war refugees who have arrived in Greece and Italy to other countries on the basis of quotas during two years.

By July 21, member states had relocated 3,362 war refugees, including 2,485 people from Greece and 877 from Italy. Another 802 people had been relocated from Turkey by July 13 on the basis of an agreement concluded between the EU and Turkey.

Estonia has to date relocated 31 war refugees from Greece.