EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom called Balkan states on Monday in Tirana to cut the number of asylum seekers.

 

“There has been a rise of 73 per cent of the number of asylums seekers compared with the previous year,” Malmstrom told a conference of justice and interior ministers from the region in Tirana.

“The [asylum] requests comes from all the countries in the region and this has worried the EU member states,” she added.

In December 2009, the European Union lifted visa requirements on Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro, allowing their citizens to travel freely into the EU’s so-called Schengen zone.

Since then, Serbia and Macedonia have received complaints about mass arrivals of asylum-seekers, mainly ethnic Albanians and Roma, filing applications in Sweden, Belgium, Germany and other European countries.

Eurostat, the European Union statistical office, says that in the first three months of 2012, 3,390 people from Serbia alone sought asylum within the EU.

Macedonia produced 1,100 asylum-seekers in the first quarter of this year. Another 865 came from Albania and 600 from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Kosovo, which still has no visa-free agreement with the EU, produced 1,970 requests.

Several EU governments have complained that the system is being abused by people who are not legitimate refugees.

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