EU member states should be given the right to decide themselves whether to accept refugees from Greece and Italy and how may of them to accept, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė says.
Dalia Grybauskaitė
© DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

"Lithuania disapproves of mandatory movement of refugees. We are in favour of the voluntary principle for EU member states to accept refugees," the president told BNS on Wednesday via her office.

Grybauskaitė underlined that Lithuania was in solidarity with other EU member states and provided humanitarian aid and participated in joint rescue and monitoring missions in the Mediterranean Sea.

"Our country has already provided asylum to over 400 foreigners, with the majority of them coming from Ukraine, Georgia and Russia," she pointed out.

On Wednesday, the European Commission suggested relocating 207 refugees to Lithuania from third countries. The Baltic country would be also expected to examine 503 asylum applications, mainly received by Greece and Italy, over the period of two years.

Lithuanian institutions would decide whether to satisfy the applications.

The EC proposal is to be discussed by EU interior ministers in June.

PM: Let's consider refugees' own preferences

Preferences of refugees should be taken into consideration when deciding on their resettlement, Lithuania's Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius says.

"When making the final decision on refugee resettlement, it is crucial to consider the capacities of the European Union's member-states and refugee preferences. I believe their preferences should also be taken into consideration," the head of the government told the Žinių Radijas news radio on Thursday.

He restated that Lithuania's capacities are limited to 30-40 people, not 700, as proposed by the European Commission.

Butkevičius also stressed the importance of the voluntary principle, which was agreed upon at the European Council in April.

"The decision will probably be revised now," he added.

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