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Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, who is attending a European Council meeting to discuss the refugee crisis, says that economic migrants should be separated from genuine war-fleeing refugees and the latter are not supposed to be picky which safe country to go to.
Dalia Grybauskaitė
Dalia Grybauskaitė
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

Grybauskaitė arrived in Brussels on Thursday. According to her, the issue of migration will remain relevant in Europe for a long time, because wars are not going to end soon and the flow of refugees may increase due to escalations of conflicts.

Grybauskaitė told Lithuanian journalists in Brussels that genuine refugees were not choosing which country to escape to. According to the Geneva Convention, such people are entitled to asylum and it is being granted, the Lithuanian president said, contrasting them with economic migrants who were picking "better, nicer and warmer countries" and were unlikely to be allowed to stay in the EU.

President Grybauskaitė also highlighted the necessity to strengthen the protection of the EU's external borders, create joint border forces that would ensure functioning border control, create the so called "hotspots" in which refugees would settle for identification before crossing into Europe.

Grybauskaitė said Europe was finally approaching the issue systematically, i.e., focusing on external borders, aid to third countries from which people migrate, support for various food funds.

Furthermore, the European Council is expected to urge Turkey to contribute to solving the migration crisis. When asked what measures would be aimed at convincing Turkey to cooperate, the president mentioned visa liberalisation, financial assistance, injections into various funds, development cooperation.

Grybauskaitė added that measures have been refined with a number of African countries and such agreements include not only readmission and return of migrants but bilateral assistance as well.

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