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May 02, 2013 17:09

Estonia explains denial of asylum to Afghan military interpreter

TALLINN. May 2 (Interfax) - Estonia's prime minister said on Thursday that the reason why the Baltic country had denied asylum to an Afghan who had worked as an interpreter for Estonian soldiers in Afghanistan was alleged normalization of the situation in Afghanistan.

"For example, one can move through the streets of Kabul much more freely than in 2006. The city presents a different picture - people feel more free, children can go to school and receive a normal education," Andrus Ansip told a news conference.

In his asylum application, the Afghan said he and his family were receiving death threats for cooperating with NATO armed forces.

Ansip claimed that his government's refusal on Wednesday to grant asylum to the interpreter was a "humanitarian" and not a political move. He argued that it was an accepted international practice that a government does not make public its reasons for the refusal of asylum or a visa.

However, the government has come under fire within Estonia for refusing to shelter a man who is getting death threats for serving the European country.

Well-known journalist Ahto Lobjakas, in a comment to Estonian website Delfi on Thursday, accused the government of "treachery to the history of Estonia," pointing out that in the past many Estonians owed their survival to being granted asylum abroad.

"Estonia has fallen short of boldness and a sense of honor," Lobjakas said. "One possible reason for this decision was our racist tendencies in debates on migration."

"Britain has granted asylum to about 1,000 people who cooperated with it in Iraq, and, most likely, will do more of this. The United States has granted asylum to interpreters from among Afghans," the journalist said.

Citing experts, he said Kabul and its immediate vicinity were the only territory in Afghanistan to be under NATO control, and that the Afghan armed forces would fall apart for "ethnic and tribal" reasons as soon as the North Atlantic alliance pulls out of the country.


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