Lithuania hopes that the European Union's refugee resettlement scheme will be voluntary and will not be restricted to only migrants coming from the south.
Dalia Grybauskaitė
© DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

Renaldas Vaisbrodas, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė's chief foreign policy adviser, says the Lithuania leader will present such a position at the European Council on Thursday.

"We hope to be able to agree during the general discussion that the sharing of refugees that will be carried out on the EU level will be voluntary and geographically neutral, i.e., refugees will be accepted not only from the south but also from the east, the Eastern Partnership. That way we would be able to balance," he told the Žinių Radijas news radio on Tuesday morning.

The Government of Lithuanian on Monday agreed that the country would be able to accept up to 250 refugees distributed by the European Commission, in a move aimed at resolving the Mediterranean refugee crisis.

"In this case, the president has also talked about the need to show solidarity … and mentioned the figure 250. We are glad that the government approved that figure," Vaisbordas said.

Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius said on Monday that the decision on refugees was a political one, adding that no financial decisions on accepting refugees have been made yet.

"I think the European Council should hold a discussion on getting funds from the EU budget. There's one programme, and we hope to receive funding," he told the national radio LRT on Tuesday morning.

The European Commission has asked member states to accept 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next two years and also examine a share of the 40,000 asylum applications from Syrian and Eritrean citizens currently handled by Italy and Greece.

Brussels wants Lithuania to take in 207 refugees and process 503 asylum applications.

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