Number of asylum seekers increases

BELGRADE -- The number of asylum seekers from Serbia to the EU increased in November and it could endanger the visa-free regime, warned Prime Minister Ivica Dačić.

Ivica Dačić, Milorad Veljović (Beta)
Ivica Dačić, Milorad Veljović (Beta)

"The biggest problem is in Germany, and in the second place is Sweden," he said at a press conference at the Palace of Serbia, held on Friday.

Dačić, who also serves as interior minister, added that most asylum seekers go to Germany because of "high benefits" they receive until their asylum requests have been resolved.

The prime minister said that asylum seekers are given "between 500 and 600 euros, which is more than the average salary in Serbia."

"They are not going there to be granted asylum, but to take the money, and since benefits are so high it pays off," said Dačić.

He added that he would "discuss this issue" with the new German government, but stressed that Serbia is not receiving information from Germany on the identity of the persons seeking asylum.

Dačić then said that the false asylum seekers coming from Serbia are mostly Roma, but that there are also Albanians, Bosniaks, and Serbs.

"We cannot prohibit all Roma from leaving the country," the prime minister remarked, adding that the Serbian government has to take into account human rights in solving this problem.

Dačić announced that EU Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom will visit Serbia after the holidays to discuss the issue.

According to him, after the decision of the Constitutional Court of Germany to provide compensation to asylum seekers ranging from 500 to 600 euros, their number increased to 1,700 in November.

Dačić also thinks that a possible abolition of EU's visa-free travel regime for Serbian would be "a disaster."