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news 08 Sep 15

Germany Curbs Balkan Rights to Claim Asylum

Germany has said it is adding Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro to the list of 'safe countries' that will make it more difficult for people from those countries to win asylum in Germany.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica
German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Germany on Monday announced that Kosovo, Albania or Montenegro would be classified as “safe countries of origin”, which means that people who come to Germany from those countries will be sent back more quickly, as few will be able to obtain asylum status.

Germany has already designated all EU states plus Ghana, Senegal, Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia as "safe countries", which means that asylum claims from nationals of these countries are likely to be rejected.

The move came as Germany on Monday unveiled its first overall plan to deal with the growing influx of refugees entering the country.

The plan, introduced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, in Berlin, includes increasing budget and manpower resources for taking in refugees, as well as measures to speed up the processing of asylum applications.

Merkel said Germany would add 3 billion euros to the 2016 budget and provide another 3 billion euros to the German states and municipalities to handle record numbers of asylum seekers.

Under the plan, asylum applicants from the Western Balkan countries are as a rule to be made to stay in preliminary reception centers, where the authorities will help set up winter-proof accommodation for 150,000 people.

The maximum length of stay for the refugees there is to be extended from three to six months. The refugees are to be obliged to remain in residence there for that period.

Applicants who have been rejected are to be deported to their home countries more quickly than they have been in the past.

"Whoever can be shown to be ineligible for permanent residency must leave the country," Merkel said, also announcing that social benefits for those subject to deportation will be reduced.

The government is also planning a type of mini-immigration law to help people from the Balkans, however.

"People from these states who can provide evidence of employment or a training position will be able to work here," the Chancellor said.

German Minister of Labour and Welfare, Andrea Nahles, said that in the next five years Germany should provide 20 thousand work permits for six Western Balkan countries, regardless of people's qualifications.

In an interview with Der Spiegel last week, Nahles said the candidacy for membership in the European Union with the countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, cannot be discussed while at the same time people from these countries come to Germany just over asylum laws.

According to official data, almost 40 per cent of all asylum seekers in Germany came from the Balkans.

In August, the leaders of Kosovo and Montenegro said they believed Germany should designate their countries as “safe” countries. Kosovo’s Prime Minister Isa Mustafa and his Montenegrin counterpart, Milo Dukanovic, made their wishes clear in letters to the European Parliament.

“We are in favour of Kosovo being classified under German law as a safe country of origin,” Mustafa wrote, adding that political persecution or torture did not exist in the Balkan nation.

Dukanovic’s letter struck a similar tone.

“Montenegro meets all of the conditions to be classified as a safe country of origin in the spirit of the German law,” Dukanovic wrote. He added that he saw no reason why any citizen of Montenegro “must seek asylum in a European or other state.”

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