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Deputy PM denies alleged pressure on EU to return refugees to Ukraine

by Kateryna Denisova and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 25, 2024 10:28 PM 2 min read
Refugees from Ukraine stand on a platform at the Messebahnhof Laatzen station in Laatzen, Germany, after their arrival on April 15, 2023. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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Ukraine is discussing with its partners how to handle the return of Ukrainian refugees from abroad in the future, but Kyiv is not pushing for aid to be cut to them in EU countries, Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Olha Stefanishyna told Radio Svoboda in Brussels on Jan. 25.

Stefanishyna's comment came after Politico, citing unnamed European diplomats, reported that Ukraine is allegedly negotiating with the EU to establish new rules to encourage the return of Ukrainian refugees in 2025.

According to Politico, Kyiv hadn’t sent an official request, but EU diplomats said there was "some pressure" from the Ukrainian side to tighten future migration rules to bring people back.

Stefanishyna said that the return of refugees to Ukraine is "a very difficult issue to discuss" and that calls alone will not be enough.

“Definitely, it is not Ukraine's direct position that Ukrainians should go back, and therefore, any aid to them should be reduced. Absolutely not. This is an ongoing discussion," she noted.

According to the deputy PM, Kyiv's position is that Ukrainian refugees staying in the EU should be entitled to temporary protection in 2025 and beyond, “even if the hostilities end.”

However, the issue of financial payments and social guarantees to them should be solved, as Russia’s all-out war has been going on for almost two years and the countries “have reached a certain point,” she said.

“But this is not radical communication at all, not negative. This dialog is ongoing, and it has been so since the beginning of the war,” Stefanishyna added.

The EU initially activated the Temporary Protection Directive for Ukrainian refugees in March 2022, shortly after the start of Russia's full-scale invasion. The European bloc has extended the measure several times since then, most recently in October 2023.
The U.N. records approximately 6 million refugees residing abroad as a result of Russian aggression.

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