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News 29 Sep 11

Bosnian Asylum Seekers in Belgium to be Repatriated

Bosnian asylum seekers in Belgium whose numbers have increased in recent months after the introduction of a visa-free regime will be repatriated, a Belgian official said Wednesday.


"All the citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina who have requested asylum in Belgium and received a negative response will be returned to Bosnia," said Freddy Roosemont of Belgium's foreign ministry, quoted in a statement issued by Bosnia's security ministry.

Roosemont met in Sarajevo with Security Minister Sadik Ahmetovic who announced a number of sanctions for Bosnian citizens who abused the visa-free travel regime to EU countries.

Local media recently published alleged internal documents of the country's foreign ministry mentioning warnings from Brussels on an important influx of Bosnian asylum seekers in some Schengen area countries.

Bosnians were seeking asylum notably in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and Sweden, the reports said without providing exact figures.

"We have strengthened controls on border posts ... and we will do everything in our power to solve this problem as soon as possible," Ahmetovic said.

Bosnians have been able to travel without visas for a limited period of time to European Union countries since mid-December 2010.

However, Europeans have established a tight monitoring system and said they would suspend the privilege in the event of major abuses and an increase of asylum seekers.

Since the visa-free regime has been introduced, some 400 Bosnians have left their home country to settle in Western Europe, Bosnian authorities estimate.

The Schengen agreement, named after the Luxembourg town where it was initiated, creates a borderless zone encompassing all EU countries except Britain, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania.

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