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News 16 Jun 15

Germany Tells Montenegrins to Stay at Home

The German ambassador in Podgorica, Gudrun Steinacker, has urged Montenegrins not to try to enter Western Europe illegally, following reports of rising numbers of would-be migrants.

Dusica Tomovic

The German ambassador in Montenegro, Gudrun Steinacker, on Monday said Montenegrin citizens planning to live and work in Germany illegally will "certainly fail to succeed".

She said it was difficult to obtain accurate data on the number of citizens from the north of Montenegro who had gone to Germany to find jobs but noted that "a few thousand people are being mentioned in public.

"I appeal to everyone not to go there or try illegally to find a job there because they will certainly fail," the ambassador told the daily newspaper, Danas.  

The government is being urged to take measures to stop large-scale migration from northern regions after local NGOs reported that about 4,000 people had left five towns in the north over the past four months.

Euromost, an NGO from the northern town of Bijelo Polje, the town most affected by this wave of migration, says more than 1,500 people left the north in the last month.

Others have also left the towns of Rozaje, Berane and Pljevlja. Most have gone to Germany and Luxembourg, trying to obtain asylum, which they are unlikely to obtain.

After the expiration of the three-month period, which is how long they can legally remain in these European countries, they refuse to return and instead remain illegally, the NGO said.

Montenegro has an official unemployment rate of 15 per cent. But the jobless rate in the north of the country is higher, according to estimates. A third of the jobless are university graduates under 30 years of age.

The average monthly salary in the country is around 490 euro, but, according to recent data from the Tax Administration, one in every eight people lives on less than 200 euros a month.

According to the latest report of the European border management agency, Frontex, the number of asylum seekers from the Western Balkans in the EU's borderless Schengen-zone countries rose sharply in 2014. Twice as many requests for asylum were filed in 2014 compared to 2013.

Authorities in Germany in May said they are expecting more than 400,000 asylum applications in the country this year.

The exceptionally high number was partly put down to the large number of people coming from the West Balkans, including Montenegro, Kosovo, Serbia and Albania, looking to find jobs and welfare benefits in Germany.

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