Baltic states might soon see streams of refugees - European commissioner

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It cannot be excluded that the Baltic states might soon see a «stream of refugees» from southern neighbors of the European Union, the commissioner for European neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations, Johannes Hahn, said in an interview with BNS.

The situation in the EU southern neighborhood is even more challenging than the eastern neighborhood, Hahn said.

«The situation still remains complicated in Syria and Libya. This is a region where we have to find individual solutions,» said Hahn. At the same time, he said that the EU has to strengthen the partners that are more advanced, such as Tunisia and Morocco, who could become the core elements of an existent and strong structure, ensuring a positive impact on other countries.

People in countries with political instability can see benefits of positive activities in front of their doors. «For example, people in Libya can see the positive situation in Tunisia and might want to see it also in their country,» the commissioner said.

Hahn also said that it would be in the interest of Latvia to deal with this region during its EU presidency, especially as it has a strong influence on the situation in the area of migration and might more affect also Latvia. «Today you can already see a lot of refugees in Sweden. So I would not exclude that soon there might be another refugee stream in the Baltic states from southern neighbors of the EU,» he said.

«Several years ago when we were talking about the European neighborhood policy, somebody said we are talking about a «ring of friends». Nowadays more often the Johnny Cash quote of 'ring of fire' is used. We would like to extinguish some of those fires because we know there are still friends in there,» the commissioner said.