EU ministers gather for meeting on refugees

Saulius Skvernelis
DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

Under the European Commission‘s proposal, Lithuania would have to take in 1,105 refugees from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea over the next two years, and the Baltic country agrees to accept that number of people.

The proposal was rejected during the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council when some Central and Eastern European countries objected to the plan.

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Skvernelis fears interior ministers might fail to find an agreement the second time as well.

“I don’t think the position of the objecting countries has changed over a week,” the minister told BNS on the eve of the meeting. “Without an agreement, we are losing time every day.”

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The first refugees to be relocated to Lithuania will come from Italy and that might happen as early as this year, Lithuania’s Interior Vice-Minister Elvinas Jankevičius confirmed earlier this week.

The EU is dealing with the largest migration crisis since World War Two. Over 500,000 people have already crossed the Mediterranean Sea this year and almost 3,000 people have died trying to reach Europe.

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Lithuania has so far resisted proposals to create a permanent mandatory refugee quota mechanism to be automatically used in the future, and wants countries to be able to voluntarily agree to accept refugees.

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