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Minister S. Skvernelis: This Decision Is to Assist Italy and Greece in Managing Migrant Flows

Date

2015 09 23

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Lithuanian Minister of the Interior Saulius Skvernelis participated in the Extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council on 22 September 2015 where an agreement was reached to relocate 120 000 people currently based in Italy and Greece throughout the Member States.

Minister Skvernelis emphasized that Lithuania “voluntarily took the decision to undertake responsibilities of refugees’ relocation in line with the principles of solidarity and responsibility. The Lithuanian government has accepted the decisions that follow European Commission’s agenda on refugee crisis”. Minister identified that “there are limits on the numbers of refugees we can accept. Therefore, we see a clear need for effective decisions that would produce operational and sustainable European Asylum System. Europe cannot live further under such overwhelming migration conditions”.

However, Skvernelis highlighted the Council’s decision as “first and foremost a sign of willingness to assist Italy and Greece in dealing with current refugee crisis, as well as other Member States in need”. According to the Minister, there is an urgent need to implement the decision reached concerning the 40 000 people, as well as the recent agreement on 120 000 people. In order to construct an effective process, it is critical that the full operation of functioning hotspots in Italy and Greece would be completed. In the following weeks the MS, including Lithuania, will designate officers that will be responsible for technical solutions of refugee relocation. 

The Council’s decision highlights that during the process of relocation “specific consideration should be given to the particular qualifications and characteristics of the applicants concerned, such as their language skills and other individual indications based on demonstrated family, cultural or social ties which could facilitate their integration into the Member State of relocation”. Minister Skvernelis commented “one must clearly recognize that migrants have no legal right to choose which state should evaluate their asylum applications. Every Member State can provide appropriate conditions of living if the person is fleeing war and not simply seeking for economic welfare. Firstly, we must set the rules ourselves and decide who will remain living in the EU and who should be returned”.

Skvernelis accentuates the need to take actions that would efficiently limit refugee flows to the EU MS. In the following meeting of JHA Council on 8 October 2015, Ministers will seek for applicable decisions, which would allow and accelerate the implementation of common EU return policy. An important issue of EU’s external borders control remains on the agenda for the next JHA Council meeting.