Estonian PM says refugee crisis main topic for EU this year and in 2016

Taavi Rõivas.

PHOTO: Liis Treimann

The main issue facing the European Union this year and apparently also in 2016, and an existential issue in several respects is how to solve the refugee crisis that has received a new impetus from the civil war in Syria, Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas said in his speech on the topic of the EU in parliament on Tuesday.

Roivas cautioned that drawing a direct connection between war refuges and terror is deliberate action. «Today we have information about four terrorists, all of whom were citizens of France,» he said.

«I fully agree with [European] Council President Donald Tusk – our primary duty and responsibility as European leaders is to make sure that Europe is safe and protected,» Roivas said. «Our primary task is to establish control over what is going on. While we shouldn't be closing the door to those in need of help, we must improve the registration of the people arriving in Europe and ascertaining their need for help,» he said. «The European asylum system needs a review not only when it comes to solidarity and distribution of the burden but also law enforcement and internal security,» Roivas said.

One possibility, according to Roivas, is reintroducing the express procedure on the border to pick out the applications that are ungrounded and immediately send back the people who filed them.

Common systems enabling cross-usage for conducting preliminary control and obtaining information about border crossing, duration of stay and passenger booking information should be established in the fastest manner, Roivas said.

«The crisis mechanisms for the relocation of refugees which haven't properly started functioning in the southern member states of the European Union yet are not and cannot be a uniform solution to the migration crisis,» he said.

«They are needed first and foremost for the European freedoms to function also under the conditions of a crisis and as support for the countries affected by the crisis the most,» he said. «Namely for that reason I said last week, when Sweden restored control on internal borders, that within the limits of our existing obligations we should take a favorable view of the request of Sweden to relocate refugees from there. Not only because Sweden is a country located very close to us but also because the situation on the external border has not been brought under control yet and there are also major difficulties with the launch of relocation from there,» the prime minister said.

«I've aways been of the opinion that we must learn from the crisis and make use of it to implement change," the prime minister said. "One of them is the idea of set up European border guard. While this cannot be done in a short period of time, today's situation shows that we must consider stronger consolidation of possibilities and assets which in the future would work only on the basis of the European Union's central budget,» he said.

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