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RIGA, May 11. /TASS/. The European Union’s migration policy has not paid off, as the flow of asylum seekers shows no signs of abating, Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis said on Wednesday.
"The European Union’s migration policy does not work," he said. "We can see every day that the flow of asylum seekers in Europe is not abating. It is necessary to find solutions to restrict it."
He pointed to the need of implementing the agreements on strengthening the EU external borders reached earlier and on mechanisms for repatriation of asylum seekers.
According to the president, Latvia is ready to accept refugees, but solely on the basis of the principle of voluntariness. "We are opposed to the introduction of mandatory quotas and have a reserved attitude towards imposing penalties for refusing to accept asylum seekers," Vejonis added.
The European Commission proposed last week to set up a European agency on granting asylum, which will decide what country migrants should be sent to. In this case, the distribution will be automatic, without the right to select the country. Besides, according to the plans of Brussels, the European countries that refuse to share the burden of the high level of immigration will face fines amounting to about 250,000 euros for each refugee.
Latvia earlier agreed to accommodate 531 refugees from the Middle East and Africa until the end of 2017. A total of 15 million euros will be allocated for the purpose. Of these, 8.5 million will be taken from the state budget and the rest - from the EU funds. To date, the country has accommodated 21 asylum seekers.
According to the latest opinion poll, the government’s decision on accepting refuges is not supported by 76.6% of the country’s population.