More vigorous response to the migration crisis

Enne kõrgete ametnike saabumist puhastati Kultuurikatlasse viiv sinine vaip tolmust.

PHOTO: Eero Vabamägi

Tallinn hosts the informal meeting of the EU ministers of justice and the interior yesterday and today. Yesterday's main issues were migration problems, the situation in Ukraine and cooperation. The ministers agreed to address the immigration problem in a more decisive manner.

According to the UNO, 83,650 people have immigrated to Italy from Libya this year, one fifth more than last year. What causes problems is that few real refugees cross the Mediterranean, most of the travelers are economic migrants from Africa who have no hope to qualify for asylum in Europe.

Yet the human rights organization Amnesty International has accused the European Union of callous attitude towards the migrants. According to the organization, the maritime operation Sophie has destroyed so many refugee boats that the smugglers are now mainly using rubber dinghies which almost certainly cannot reach Italy and Amnesty claims that 2,030 people have drowned this year.

The European Union ministers of the interior, chaired by Andres Anvelt, discussed in Kultuurikatel the situation in the Mediterranean and sought for opportunities for smoother cooperation.

According to the ministers, the EU member countries are concerned with the great pressure on Italy. The ministers agreed that attention should be paid to balance between solidarity and responsibility in offering support to member countries under pressure.

The ministers agreed on various measures for reducing the migration pressure and supporting Italy. They decided that it is necessary to improve cooperation with Libya and other countries from which the migrants are coming.

Maritime operations should also be better coordinated to save lives and suppress human smuggling. Higher goals were set in repatriating illegal migrants. 

The ministers promised to support Italy in implementing efficient migration policy so as to separate as quickly as possible the people actually needing asylum from those to be repatriated. They agreed that the time period between receiving rejection of asylum appeal and repatriation must be reduced.

Minister of the Interior Andres Anvelt and European Union Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos held a news conference in the evening. They both emphasized that Italy is not alone and that the EU member countries will help Italy.

According to the Estonian minister of the interior, mostly economic migrants are attempting to reach Europe across the Mediterranean. «They should be treated politely, according to human rights, but also sent back to the countries they have come from,» the minister said.