Laanet calls for common approach to asylum seekers

  • 2006-01-18
  • Baltic News Service
VIENNA - Meeting with his EU colleagues in the Austrian capital Jan. 13, Interior Minister Kalle Laanet said that Estonia was interested in the EU's establishing common rules for asylum-seekers.

"Estonia, as a small country, is interested in cooperation and the unified application of rules in the European Union. A unified system of asylum and practical cooperation between the member states is the key to rapid decision-making on ungrounded applications for asylum," Laanet said.

The minister said that, for small countries, it was important to have interpreters of exotic languages and information about the origin of asylum-seekers available. As the system works now, it is possible in urgent cases to seek rapid assistance from the EU, he said.

Laanet proposed creating a handbook of refugee law as they exist on administration topics surrounding the EU's external borders and visas.

The commission is about to prepare a notice concerning practical cooperation by February at the latest.

Laanet and his European counterparts spoke during the meeting of the EU Justice and Interior Affairs Council on cooperation in matters of asylum and migration, spokespeople for the Interior Ministry said.

The ministers discussed how to enhance the protection of refugees' countries of origin and step up cooperation between these regions and member states of the EU.

"With the Asylum Procedures Directive adopted in December, the first step in creating a common asylum system was completed. Now the phase of implementation and evaluation of the system will begin," Laanet said.

Many Baltic residents, especially those who were skeptical about EU integration, feared that membership in the union would result in a flood of asylum seekers and illegal aliens.