Lithuanian parliament wants more power on refugee resettlement

Seimas of Lithuania
Seimas DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

In preparation for resettlement of refugees from Southern Europe, Lithuania’s Ministry of Interior has drafted amendments on the legal status of foreigners, which include a provision that it is the government that makes decisions on refugee resettlement.

Meanwhile a group of five MPs have suggested to include into the legislation that any decisions on refugee resettlement in Lithuania need the approval from parliament, BNS reports. According to the MPs, the issue is of great relevance to national politics and therefore the Seimas of Lithuania should have a say.

Meanwhile the Social Democratic Party has proposed that all major political parties should sign an agreement, pledging to deal with the issue responsibly. According to Algirdas Sysas, deputy chairman of the party, the intent is to have all parties agree not to speculate or use the refugee issue for electioneering, since it is a grave issue and concerns people in need of urgent help.

“We want to reach an agreement that this issue not be made political,” Sysas told the daily Lietuvos Žinios. “Second, it is important that we do not come across in Europe as barbarians who do things wrongly; many of our compatriots themselves have emigrated, they live in other countries.”

The opposition, however, is sceptical about such an agreement, saying that the ruling majority should first put together a plan on how to integrate asylum seekers.

Lithuania has pledged to accept 1,105 refugees over the coming two years as part of the European Union’s effort to deal with the influx of refugees from the Middle East and Africa.

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