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EU ministers to discuss Thursday visa liberalization and protective measures

09. June 2011. | 12:05

Source: Tanjug

EU interior ministers and their colleagues from Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland will discuss Thursday a European Commission report regarding a monitoring mechanism for the visa liberalization in the Western Balkans and a new proposal that would allow a quick suspension of the visa liberalization if needed.

EU interior ministers and their colleagues from Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland will discuss Thursday a European Commission report regarding a monitoring mechanism for the visa liberalization in the Western Balkans and a new proposal that would allow a quick suspension of the visa liberalization if needed.

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom will present the report on the monitoring mechanism, whose introduction was agreed back in November.

The report states that although there are numerous abuses concerning the visa liberalization, most travellers come with good intentions. Only a small number of them, and 80 percent of that number are Roma and ethnic Albanians, use the liberalization to seek asylum without a good cause.

The main goal of the liberalization has been accomplished, which is to improve connections between people, business opportunities and cultural exchange and to help those from outside the EU learn more about it, according to the document.

However, the countries of the Western Balkans have to do more in their reforms so that these achievements would be preserved, the report states.

The monitoring mechanism is the result of a compromise between the European Commission and a number of EU members who were against an unconditional visa liberalization with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania, fearing that it could lead to the same kind of abuses that followed the decision to allow free travel from Serbia and Macedonia.

Malmstrom will also present the proposal to change the regulations regarding visa-free travel from countries outside the EU, which would allow a temporary suspension of the free travel regime in case of necessity.

After the ministers are acquainted with the proposal, it should be presented to the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament.


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10. June 2011. 06:44:39

| Chachipe a.s.b.l.


NGOs warn Serbia not to infringe the freedom of movement of its citizens

7 June 2011 – A coalition of Roma and refugee rights NGOs has asked the Serbian government to abandon plans aimed to prevent its citizens from seeking asylum abroad. Against the background of mounting pressures from the EU and the threat of losing the recently granted visa freedom, the Serbian authorities have lately put forward a series of measures including a law reform making it possible to deprive failed asylum seekers of their passport. The NGOs fear that the rights of the refugees would be thus violated.

Serbia has come under increasing pressure ever since several EU member states have been experiencing a sharp increase in the number of asylum seekers from Serbia. In 2010, the greatest numbers of asylum seekers amongst European nations were from Serbia. This upsurge has been linked with the liberalization of the visa regime, exempting Serbian citizens from the need to apply for a visa for short term travels to the Schengen area.

The EU has recently threatened Serbia and other countries, that it might reintroduce visa requirements, if there is a sudden upsurge of asylum applications. This is the content of a new proposal of the EU Commission, which will be discussed at the next meeting of the ministers of Justice and Home Affairs in Luxembourg.

In their letter to the Serbian government, the NGOs acknowledged the fact that the Serbian authorities are acting under pressure from abroad. They nevertheless point out that this does not discharge the Serbian authorities from their obligations towards their citizens. They criticized the signing of readmission agreements under which more than 4,000 Serbian citizens were forcibly repatriated to Serbia, in 2010.

In this context, the NGOs were particularly critical of the Serbian government’s denoting asylum seekers “false” or “bogus”, and alleging that they were leaving Serbia for purely economic motives. The NGOs stressed the fact that such statements disregard the fact that the majority of the asylum seekers have been members of ethnic minorities, including the Roma.

Referring to the statements of the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister, Ivica Dačić, who, on the occasion of the Hederlezi celebrations, a Roma holiday celebrating the beginning of Spring, called on Roma not to seek asylum abroad, as this could damage Serbia’s national and state interests, the NGOs said, that such statements would only rouse anti-Roma resentment and alienate the Roma from the rest of society.

Finally, the NGOs criticized plans to introduce a new law that would make it possible to deprive failed asylum seekers or citizens who overstayed abroad of their passports. They pointed out to the fact that the freedom of movement is guaranteed by international conventions, and that the European Court of Human Rights has already sued several states, that have denied citizens a passport.

“We believe Serbia’s way into the European Union should not be paved with a major violation of the rights of its most vulnerable citizens,” the NGOs said in conclusion. They urged the Serbian authorities to increase their efforts to work towards an improvement of the living conditions of their citizens and to strengthen human and minority rights.

For more information, please contact:

Chachipe a.s.b.l., Luxembourg
Project Roma Center e.V., Göttingen/Germany
Niedersächsischer Flüchtlingsrat e.V., Hildesheim/Germany
Förderverein Roma e.V., Frankfurt am Main/Germany
Rom e.V., Köln/Germany
Flüchtlingsrat Sachsen-Anhalt e.V./AKEFF, Magdeburg/Germany
Romano Drom, Magdeburg/Germany
Roma Union Grenzland e.V., Aachen/Germany
Centre de Médiation des Gens du Voyage et des Roms en Wallonie a.s.b.l., Namur/Belgium
Pro Asyl e.V., Frankfurt am Main/Germany
Romane Aglonipe e.V., Hannover/Germany
Flüchtlingsrat Hamburg e.V., Hamburg/Germany


01. August - 07. August 2011.