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Estonia: Trans-party cooperation for a national migration policy

On 2 October 2015, Estonia and Italy signed a cooperation agreement, which outlines the principles of relocating asylum seekers from Italy to Estonia. Similar agreements will be signed in January 2016 with Greece and the UN Refugee Agency for the resettlement of people from Turkish refugee camps. Only refugees from Syria, Eritrea and Iraq are concerned. Prior to their arrival, the Estonian parliament is discussing the significant national importance of having a trans-party migration policy in all areas related to the resettlement and relocation of refugees to Estonia, including housing, employment, education, language teaching and security.

The country's capacity to communicate with those who will be granted asylum is meanwhile being questioned as, according to some assessments, Estonia only counts twenty good Arabic speakers in total. Although many foreigners speak relatively good English or have good command of Russian, refugees coming from Arab-speaking countries have a lower level of English. This may have an impact on their adaptation and integration into Estonian society, especially in areas where detailed translations are needed, such as health checks or communicating with local authorities. In that matter, the Estonian Muslim community has indicated its desire to help migrants integrate and therefore, to cooperate with the state.