Lithuania will show solidarity and will contribute to solving the refugee crisis, but it does not support quotas, Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said on Saturday, adding that the causes of the crisis must be addressed, rather than just dealing with the consequences.
Linas Linkevičius
© Reuters/Scanpix

"Refugee numbers in camps have risen further and Lithuania will show solidarity and it is ready to share that burden - I am underlining this - on a voluntary basis," Linkevičius told BNS by phone from Luxembourg after an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers.

"But it is more important to find out the causes of that problem and prevent these causes, because we are now combating the consequences. And we are not very successful in this, because inflows continue in an uncontrolled way," he said.

Linkevičius said that in granting asylum, war refugees whose lives are under threat have to be distinguished from economic migrants.

"Countries from which refugees are coming have to be assessed to identify safer countries. Perhaps we should not treat people from these countries as refugees, because they are economic migrants more than anything else. We have to distinguish between them and the repatriation process has to go on as well," the minister said.

"Protection must be given to those who are fleeing war and whose lives are threatened, but the assessment in the hot spots through which migrants are coming has to be really working, not the way it is now," he said.

The European Commission will this week propose that more asylum seekers from Hungary, Greece and Italy be redistributed among member states.

"We will take part in the solving of the problem, but we do not really believe that the magical distribution of quotas can solve the problem, which is what the Commission and some countries believe," Linkevičius said.

Lithuania in July agreed to take in 255 people from Italy and Greece and 70 more from Turkey.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius confirmed last Friday that the country would have to accept more refugees than initially planned.

"It appears so," Linkevičius said, commenting on the situation.

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