Balkans to EU: get tougher on asylum seekers
Catherine Ashton - AFP

Western Balkan countries urged the EU on Friday to help them block the flow of bogus EU asylum seekers by refusing to shelter them in comfortable facilities while their requests are being reviewed.

Meeting in Sarajevo, government ministers from Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia expressed fear that the exodus of asylum seekers from their countries may cause the EU to permanently scrap visa-free travel regimes.

The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a measure that allows EU countries to temporarily require visas from citizens of Balkan countries from which most bogus seekers originate. That could first hit Serbia, which has the largest number of fake asylum seekers — mainly Gypsies — seeking aid from the rich EU.

Tens of thousands people from Balkan countries — mainly from Serbia and Macedonia — have sought asylum in Western Europe since the EU allowed visa-free travel for their nations a few years ago.

In the common pattern, Gypsy migrants leave makeshift cardboard settlements in the Balkans and cross into the EU knowing their asylum requests have no chance. The motive is usually to obtain the food, lodging and, in some cases, living expenses worth hundreds of euros (dollars) per month to which they are entitled as they await an answer.

The preferred country is Germany, where asylum requests are reviewed for several months — a period during which a four-member family can receive monthly benefits higher than the average salary in the country of origin.

“In some countries they make more than a minister makes in our country,” said Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic.

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