Source :Deutsche Welle 20.03.2014.
German Ministry of Foreign Affairs started an initiative for Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Albania to be listed as “safe countries of origin”. Asylum requests from this kind of countries are being processed in no longer than one week.
Since the beginning of the visa liberalization in 2009 and 2010, asylum seekers from Balkans have become a real problem for Germany. So called “fake asylum seekers” are increasingly becoming a burden on the state budget, while in some German municipalities thousands of Roma families come every fall to stay over for a winter.
“Germany is an open country, especially for people whose lives are at risk and for those who are discriminated based on their ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. Last year, Germany had accepted 127,000 asylum seekers, which makes a quarter of all asylum seekers in the European Union, even more than the US, which is why no one can accuse Germany of not being sympathetic”, says Stephan Meyer, a politician of the Christian Democrat Union.
“Asylum seekers from Serbia, Macedonia and other Western Balkans’ countries represent over 30 percent of all reported asylum seekers. However, considering the number of those who have been granted asylum, citizens of these countries have the lowest rates- between 0 and 0.1 percent. There is no prosecution in these countries, which is why they should be listed as safe countries of origin”, says Meyer. Apart from Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Meyer argues that legal changes should also include Albania and Montenegro, which would clearly indicate that there is no prosecution of citizens in these countries.
What exactly will this mean to asylum seekers?
“A faster procedure, assuming that the applicant comes from a country with no persecution, makes the whole process easier for the German government. This particularly applies for the procedure of gathering of evidence. Hence, there will be no need to prove in each case whether or not there is a persecution- it will imply according to the procedure. The process will therefore be much faster. Even in the case of complaints against the decision the whole procedure is carried out within a week, and more importantly, it does not result in postponement of the previous decisions”, explains Stephan Meyer.
Leftists: „It’s a scandal”
The initiative of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs is strongly opposed by German Left Party and the NGO “Pro asylum”. Ulla Jelpke, domestic affairs spokesperson for the Left Party says that these plans will only confirm the practice that has already been implemented in administration- the practice of rapidly eliminating Balkans Roma people from Germany.
“Listing Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina as safe countries of origin is a scandal. And now Albania and Montenegro are also being included, even though their ranking is not predicted by the coalition agreement”, says Jelpke.
“Basically, the main problem is the classification of safe countries of origin itself”, says Bernd Mesovic, the representative of “Pro Asylum”. Ever since the nineties “Pro Asylum” is against the division of first second and third class countries. The Federal Constitutional Court claims that human rights should not remain only on paper, but also to be actualized. In our opinion, the Balkan countries are not truly safe countries of origin”. In addition, Masovik recalls that even though the procedure came to be faster, people still keep coming, and problems will not be solved only by putting some countries on lists.
Due to a high volume of asylum applications, the visa liberalization has been called into question, and the European Union has adopted a new visa waiver suspension mechanism. Because of this, the Western Balkans states themselves are trying to get in their way. Once the country is listed as a safe country of origin, half the work will be completed, as most of the asylum seekers will be returned home within a week, without much discussion and time-consuming procedures. It’s also important to mention that the similar problem was present in Macedonia few years ago, when its citizens sought asylum in Belgium. However, a quick visit of the Belgian Prime Minister to Skopje and a new listing of Macedonia, have shortened the asylum procedure to 48 hours, thus drying up the river of asylum seekers. The same is to be expected with Germany.