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Panel Debate: Stories behind Visa Liberalization: Asylum Seekers and Irregular Migration

The Institute for Democracy and Mediation held the panel debate “Challenges beyond Visa Liberalization: Asylum Seekers and Illegal Migration” in Hotel Tirana International on March 15, 2013. The panel discussed the findings of IDM’s corresponding study report, which analyses reasons and factors beyond the growth in number of asylum requests in EU countries and the measures undertaken by the Albanian government to tackle these phenomena.

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The Head of the political, economic and information section of the European Commission Delegation in Tirana, Mr.

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Clive Rumbold, stated that with its benefits, the visa liberalization process also brought obligations. Within this framework, he stated that authorities should address the reasons conditioning illegal migration of Albanian citizens towards the European Union by focusing mostly on sharing information with EU countries, improving the infrastructure and border controls, more information campaigns and integration of minorities and returned citizens.

Meanwhile, the Director of the Border and Migration Police Department and Vice-Director of State Police, Mr. Pëllumb Nako, summarized the situation concerning the control of illegal migration regarding the registered cases of abuse with allowed periods of stay in Schengen countries and concerning “fake” asylum applications. He stated that despite the measures undertaken so far, the movements of illegal migrants with forged Albanian documents remains problematic, while border security has increased and illegal movements dropped by four times. The UNHCR representative for Albania raised concerns about the confusion on statistics of asylum cases as well as in regard to the respecting of rights and obligations of asylum seekers.

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Representatives from Roma associations in Albania provided an overview of the effect of visa liberalization regime on Roma community by stating that few measures have been taken so far to tackle their integration and social and economic improvement of their lives as the only solution towards stopping illegal migration from this community.

The debate included discussions on different aspects and measures that shall be enforced to tackle the problem of asylum seekers and illegal migration.