Lithuania backs EU refugee sharing plan

DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

Just like the majority of countries, Lithuania supported the scheme. Meanwhile countries that voted against it were Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania, while Finland abstained, diplomatic sources told BNS.

Lithuania’s Interior Minister Saulius Skvernelis told BNS that Tuesday’s ballot would not revise the number to be received by Lithuania – the number remains at 1,105 over two years.

“Definitely, there are no changes, we cannot keep changing things, we have a position formulated by the government and the Seimas,” said the minister.

In his words, the first group of refugees may arrive as early as this year.

“I believe some may be resettled this year already,” said Skvernelis.

In comment of the discord in the decision of the European Union ministers, he said that it was probably a precedent.

“The first time some countries probably just stated their opinion – they disagree with the decision, however, virtually they said they would take part (in the refugee scheme), if the decision is taken by vote,” the Lithuanian minister said.

In his words, the ministers emphasized on Tuesday that the migrants not eligible for a refugee status would have to be returned to their country of origin.

“Only persons who are eligible to legal protection and status will enter Lithuania, not only Lithuania but any country receiving the refugees,” said Skvernelis.

The EU has earlier approved a scheme to share 40,000 refugees among member-states. Under the programmes, Lithuania has committed itself to receiving 1,105 refugees from countries like Syria, Iraq and Eritrea over two years.

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