Estonia hopes to reach agreement with Italy on interviewing refugees

The Ministry of the Interior hopes to reach an agreement with Italy this summer regarding the conducting of interviews with refugees in that country, which wuld allow for the relocation of refugees from Italy to Estonia to begin in accordance with the EU migrant distribution plan.

Lithuanian Minister of the Interior Eimutis Misiūnas said on Tuesday that his Italian counterpart Marco minniti has agreed to allow Lithuanian officials to conduct interviews of refugees in Italy. "We had our arguments and we managed to reach a deal," he said.

Estonian Ministry of the Interior spokesperson Karin Kase said that the agreement between Lithuania and Italy was a positive step toward enabling Estonia and Italy to reach a similar agreement. "We hope to reach a mutual agreement this summer," she said, adding that active communication on the the official level between Estonia and Italy is currently ongoing and that the next meetings on the subject are planned for June.

Estonia wants to determine that refugees to be relocated to Estonia will not pose a security threat, which is why the state deems it necessary to conduct interviews with the asylum-seekers beforehand.

Estonia has held negotiations with Italy since the beginning of the relocation process, however the two countries have thus far failed to reach an agreement on the matter, as Italy has not yet agreed to interviews being conducted on-site, as Estonian officials have been doing in Greece and Turkey.

Estonia is prepared to resettle and relocate a total of 550 people within the framework of the EU Agenda on Migration within a period of two years, including a total of 204 people from Greece and 125 people from Italy.

To date, Estonia has relocated 130 people from Greece and resettled 20 people from Turkey.

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