EU foreign policy chief expects deal on refugees this week

The European Union (EU) is expected to reach a deal on refugee quotas this Tuesday on a ministerial level, and the EU leaders will discuss the agreement during the summit in Brussels on Wednesday, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said here on Monday.

The European migrant crisis has become the main subject during the EU foreign policy chief’s first official visit here.

“I hope that tomorrow the interior ministers will find an agreement,” Mogherini told journalists at a press conference in Vilnius, BNS news agency reported.

“I think it will be extremely relevant, first of all, because our internal unity strengthens our external action,” she added.

According to Mogherini, the migrant crisis is a “regional and global problem.”

The EU seeks to agree on housing in 160,000 refugees. Lithuania has been asked to accept 1,105 refugees from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea over the next two years. The first refugees could be relocated to Lithuania from Italy as early as this year, the Baltic country’s officials said.

“We are solid, solidary and rich, therefore, we should not feel burdened to share the responsibility within Europe in order to guarantee refugees’ safety,” Mogherini said.

The EU will soon be able to give “constructive news” to the world, she noted.

The Italian diplomat also stressed that she “appreciates the position of Lithuania of sharing responsibility and expressing solidarity.”

Mogherini met with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius.

“We welcome the European Commission’s proposals to better manage the migration flows and ensure the prevention of further aggravations, we also look forward to the decisions by the interior ministers council,” Butkevicius said after the meeting.

Linkevicius expressed solidarity with EU member states in response to migration challenges and addressing the causes of migration. Lithuania has already made the decision on its share of refugee burden, he underlined.

“Special attention should be devoted to address the causes of migration. We must maintain solidarity in the EU in order to overcome the crisis,” Linkevicius was quoted as saying in the ministry’s statement.

The EU’s Eastern Partnership issues, including the current situation in Ukraine and the EU’s support to this country, were also discussed during meetings.

“Europe needs unity today as never before,” President Grybauskaite echoed Mogherini’s insights in the statement.

Meanwhile, the Lithuanian leader repeatedly expressed her negative stance concerning the EU’s permanent mandatory refugees’ quota mechanism.

In her words, sharing refugees alone would not solve the problem in substance, hence, decisions were needed as to how to ensure EU’s external border security and to effectively manage migration flows.

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