At its extraordinary sitting today, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) heard the legal explanation of the Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise on the UN Global Compact for Migration, and reviewed the 15 motions to amend the Draft Statement of the Riigikogu on the UN Global Compact for Migration, submitted by five factions.
The Committee approved with 7 votes in favour and 3 votes against the amended text of the draft statement, and sent it for debate to the additional plenary sitting on Monday, 26 November.
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Marko Mihkelson emphasised that the Foreign Affairs Committee had dealt with the issues relating to the Compact for Migration responsibly, and in spite of different positions, the discussion of the Draft Statement had focused on arguments. “The parliamentary debate that started at the initiative of the Foreign Affairs Committee has shown how important it is to comprehensively analyse global migration problems, and the ways how Estonia can defend its sovereign rights and participate in finding solutions in international cooperation,” Mihkelson said. “On the basis of these discussions, it seems to me Estonia needs a migration strategy.”
In the opinion of member of the Committee Oudekki Loone, it is a moment of historical importance when the Riigikogu actively discusses serious foreign policy issues. “We spoke about the concerns and problems that have been under public attention in connection with the Compact for Migration in recent weeks,” Loone said. “It is a good practice, and these debates enable to show that we follow the discussions in the society.” She expressed hope that in the future, too, the Riigikogu would be active in shaping the foreign policy of Estonia.
The Isamaa Faction, the Estonian Reform Party Faction, the Estonian Free Party Faction, the Social Democratic Party Faction and the Estonian Conservative People’s Party Faction submitted motions to amend to the Draft Statement of the Riigikogu on the UN Global Compact for Migration (758 AE).
Motion of the Free Party Faction, according to which the Riigikogu will separately emphasise the sovereign right of States to determine their national migration policy, as highlighted in the Compact, was supported. The Committee also supported two motions of the Free Party Faction and one motion of the Reform Party Faction on the wording of the Statement.
The Committee also supported the motion of the Reform Party faction to formulate unambiguously in the Statement that joining the Global Compact for Migration is decided by the Government. The Free Party Faction submitted a similar motion, and the Committee essentially supported it.
On the motion of the Social Democratic Party Faction, the Committee added a reference to the provision of the Foreign Relations Act that regulates the competence of the Government to present statements, declarations and communications concerning foreign relations or accede thereto to the Draft Statement.
Chancellor of Justice Ülle Madise gave the Foreign Affairs Committee an overview of the independent legal assessment of the Compact. She pointed out five aspects, and assured that the UN Compact was not an international agreement, and was not legally binding for the states.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser agreed with the assessment of the Chancellor of Justice that the Global Compact was not a legally binding document.
The Draft Statement was introduced to the Foreign Affairs Committee by member of the Committee Barbi Pilvre as representative of the initiators.
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