Lithuania is "not enthusiastic" about the European Commission's proposal to introduce quotas for EU member states to accept a certain number of migrants from Africa, the country's Permanent Representative to the EU Raimundas Karoblis says.
Raimundas Karoblis
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

"The decision should be made in Vilnius. We are not enthusiastic about mandatory quotas, rather sceptical, but a lot of things are in the details," Karoblis told journalists in Brussels on Tuesday.

In his words, Lithuania could make other commitments, for example, related to stepping up border protection, to make its contribution to the resolution of the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.

"If there are problems with migrants, we should think about other forms of our contribution, for example, in protecting EU borders, which, as far as I understand, is already being done," the Lithuanian ambassador said.

He believes the principle of voluntary acceptance of migrants should remain, adding that "the principle of voluntary acceptance doesn’t mean we accept nobody".

Karobilis believes the Commission's proposal might fail as refugees from poorer EU states would eventually move to the richer ones.

"Different countries have a different appeal for migrants, and it’s no secret that richer countries provide more social guarantees, pay more and some of them give all of that very quickly. (…) We have to take into account the economic conditions, migrants' wishes and aspirations, as what's the point for an X country to accept a certain number of people and they will later see other countries as more appealing and will try to move there, and the whole system will fail. So, the distribution of mandatory quotas is one of the elements seen as rather controversial. But there are really many more questions and a lot of things are in the details," the Lithuanian ambassador said.

Italy is asking for greater assistance from the EU in dealing with thousands of immigrants coming from Libya. Calls for action were stepped up in April after around 800 people drowned in the Mediterranean Sea when a boat taking African immigrants capsized.

The quota proposal is backed by several counties, including Germany and Austria who do not directly need to deal with the migrant influx, but agreement of all EU member states is unlikely. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has called the quota proposal "mad and unfair" and Slovakia has also expressed its disapproval.

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