Estonian parlt panel chair: EU's role in covering costs related to war refugees must grow

  • 2022-05-16
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Speaking at an interparliamentary conference on the challenges of migration in Paris on Monday, chairman of the Riigikogu constitutional committee Toomas Kivimagi said that Estonia does not support mandatory refugee quotas, but expects greater support from the EU in terms of compensating individual countries for the costs related to Ukrainian refugees.

Kivimagi pointed out that since Feb. 24, Estonia has received more than 38,000 war refugees from Ukraine. That equals 2.9 percent of the Estonian population.

"To better understand the proportions: in the case of France, this would be tantamount to accepting 1.9 million refugees," the Estonian MP told the conference in the French Senate.

According to Kivimagi, the Riigikogu is preparing to adopt a supplementary budget later this month with almost 250 million euros earmarked for expenses related to refugees.

"Despite the great challenges we face, Estonia does not support mandatory refugee quotas in the European Union. We believe that it is better for refugees to stay in neighboring countries if possible, rather than flee to places located thousands of kilometers from their home countries," he said.

Kivimagi said that the majority of refugees plan to return to Ukraine after the end of the war, and it is humane to let the refugees choose in which country to stay at this tragic time.

At the same time, he said, Estonia expects the European Union to take on a greater role in compensating those member states that have received greater numbers of refugees. He also said that the role of the community in strengthening the European Union's external borders should increase.

"It is not fair to leave member states alone with these costs. We need to protect our borders well and we need to do it together," Kivimagi told the conference.

Together with Kivimagi, Eduard Odinets, vice chairman of the Riigikogu constitutional committee, is participating in the interparliamentary conference on the challenges of migration.