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Migration

Report: Berlin to deter Balkan asylum-seekers

A German newspaper says Berlin is drafting legislation to deter asylum applicants from Balkan nations such as Serbia and Albania. German local authorities would be able to reject such claims as unfounded.

The Ruhr Nachrichten newspaper based in Dortmund said Friday Germany's interior ministry planned to declare Albania, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia as "secure countries of origin."

Applications of more than 6,000 people from these Balkan states were submitted inside Germany during January and February, when Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere called for rapid processing.

"People from these are not politically persecuted and their asylum applications must be decided upon promptly and clearly," he said at the time.

Friday's newspaper report said the ministry's draft law would require rejection of "futile asylum applications," so as to more quickly end the stays of such persons in Germany.

Deadlines of only one week would be set for legal appeals and departure, it said.

Visa-free entry

Since late 2009, citizens of Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia have been allowed visa-free entry to western Europe's so-called Schengen open border zone. Similar entry was extended a year later to visitors from Albania and Bosnia.

The influx was met in Germany by outbursts of xenophobia, noteably in Berlin. Arrivals by asylum-seekers, mainly from eastern Europe, jumped by two-thirds in Germany last year.

Entry eased for Moldovans

In a separate development on Friday, EU governments were close to approving visa-free access to western Europe's so-called Schengen zone for citizens from Moldova, according to the German news agency DPA.

Those Moldovans with biometric passports would have access for up to 90 days, starting in May.

The move comes as the EU prepares to sign a political and free-trade deal with Moldova, despite pressure from Russia which is engaged in a major row with the West over Ukraine.

Moldova would be the first country among six post-Soviet states to achieve visa-free access as part of the EU's Eastern Partnership project.

ipj/hc (dpa, epd, AFP)

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