Serbia wants to make it harder for its citizens to seek asylum in the EU
Serbia is dissatisfied with the outflow of its citizens to various EU countries as asylum-seekers. According to Serbian Vice-Premier Božidar Djelić, such requests for asylum are universally unjustified and are harming the country's EU accession process. The Serbian government is preparing a law that would significantly restrict this trend.
Belgrade wants to negotiate the issue with its EU partners and to acquire exact data on the numbers of Serbian asylum-seekers in various EU Member States, Djelić said. According to the EU statistical bureau, Eurostat, a total of 257 000 people sought asylum last year in EU countries, 17 700 of whom were Serbian citizens (7 % of the total). However, these applicants are allegedly seeking asylum for fraudulent reasons, on the whole, in order to receive support as refugees in countries that are relatively rich. The Serbian government is therefore considering including an amendment to the law that will permit them to preliminarily strip people of their passports who abuse the right to asylum in EU states.
The Austrian Press Agency (APA), referring to official sources, reported that after the visa obligation between Serbia and the EU was lifted, Serbia issued as many as 3.5 million biometric passports to its citizens by the end of 2009. Serbian citizens seeking asylum are mostly Albanians from southern Serbia and Roma people, as well as some Bosniaks (Muslims) from the Serbian Sandžak, which has been particularly afflicted by the economic crisis.
During a statewide police action last week, 24 people were arrested in connection with issuing false personal documents, including 16 police officers. It was determined that those arrested had issued the documents, for a bribe, to citizens of Kosovo. That country, Europe's newest, is not set to see visa relations with the EU liberalized any time soon, the APA reports.